A report from Asphalt & Rubber says electric motorcycle manufacturer Alta Motors has ceased operations as it works out its financial situation.
According to A&R, the San Francisco-based company has sent all its staff home as it attempts to raise funds to further its operations.
Alta was in the news earlier this year as it first announced a deal to partner with Harley-Davidson to develop new motorcycle platforms, and then more recently saw that deal fall apart as Harley-Davidson announced its plans to open its own EV operations centre in Silicon Valley. Asphalt & Rubber reports that in the wake of the break-up with Harley-Davidson, Alta was offered a buyout from another OEM, but turned it down, then accepted another offer, and saw that one fall through at the last minute.
Now, Alta is looking for funding from other sources, but until that money is lined up, the company has suspended operations.
Electric motorcycle start-ups have a long history of crashing and burning once the capital runs out, for a variety of reasons, but usually the problem is a combination of underwhelming product and overwhelming price tags. This isn’t necessarily the case with Alta. Its machines carry a reasonable price tag in the US market (we haven’t seen any for sale in Canada yet), considering their performance. Way, way back at the start of the decade, when Alta first started business under the name BRD, the company’s goal was to build a motocross bike with capability similar to a 250 cc four-stroke, and Alta did succeed in this goal. Any time its battery bikes go head-to-head with gas-powered dirt bikes, they acquit themselves well, although competition regulations have kept them out of many offroad series.
With that kind of performance, it’s easier to command a higher price tag, and when Alta dropped the MSRP of its Redshift MX bike to $10,495 US earlier this year, it was reckoned to be a pretty fair deal for what was arguably the most exciting electric motorcycle in the US (where Alta had a strong network of 70 dealers).
Along with its MXer, Alta also has enduro and supermoto machines in the lineup, and has worked on factory flat track machines as well.
What’s next? Insiders figured the infusion of capital from Harley-Davidson would help Alta push forward to be the Next Big Thing in American motorcycling, but now it looks like the company’s taking a step backward, not forward. A more affordable electric bike for the masses seems highly unlikely in the near future. But given Alta’s respected niche in the industry, and constant improvement of its EV technology, it’s hard to imagine nobody coming forward with the money to keep the brand afloat.