In a attempt to breathe life into a local industry under enormous pressure, the government of the Catalonia region of Spain has created an initiative to crowd-develop an electric urban scooter by partnering the remaining local motorcycle manufacturers on one project.
Announced in December, the plan calls for four companies to combine their efforts and contribute assets totalling €7 million ($11 million CAD), while the government contributes an additional €3 million ($4.5 million CAD) in available credit.
“We have an opportunity to change the paradigm. The synergies can help us to gain volume and develop new technologies,” said Joan Sabata, marketing director of Volta, one of the partner brands.
The concept calls for an all-electric scooter, dimensionally equivalent to the best selling Honda SH125, the best selling motorcycle in Spain. The new e-bike will feature a range of 50km, under seat storage, and a target price of €4000 ($6400 CAD), about 10% more than the Honda.
Can public money and a consortium of small, weak and vulnerable companies break through in an area where no major global manufacturer has succeeded?
The once strong Spanish motorcycle industry was crushed by the Great Recession, with manufacturing output cut by 96% in just five years. Major manufacturing plants from Yamaha, Piaggio (Derbi) and Honda’s dramatically reduced or completely ceased operations, leaving thousands without work and causing the shuttering of hundreds of motorcycle components suppliers. Smaller brands like Gas Gas and resurrected OSSA simply went bankrupt.
Rieju, a family-owned, hundred year old motorcycle company, will be the senior partner and manufacture the final product since it already has an electric scooter in its current lineup. “We have done a lot of talking about electric vehicles but there is still much to do” Says Jordi Riera, grandson of the founder and current president of Rieju.
The once strong Spanish motorcycle industry was crushed by the Great Recession. With the closing entirely of major manufacturing plants from Yamaha, Piaggio (Derbi) and severe reductions in Honda’s operations there, plus the bankruptcy of Gas Gas, OSSA, Spain’s production levels are down 96% over pre recession levels when they were the second largest in Europe.