Think Italy, think Modena, think high-spec racing vehicles and the first name that comes to mind is Ferrari – the famous red car with the prancing horse logo known across the world. However, there is another Italian family which could soon be considered the modern equivalent of the Ferrari phenomenon.
Five years ago, CRP Group (a collection of specialist companies with expertise in high precision CNC machining and WindForm Additive Manufacturing) built and entered an electric racing motorcycle “eCRP 1.2” into the TTXGP EU race in Assen. The bike went on to win the European Championship title that year. Based on the successful debut of the “eCRP 1.2” and drawing on the company’s experience with Additive Manufacturing, the second racing motorcycle “eCRP 1.4” which had a custom-made lithium-polymer (LiPo) 7.4kWh battery competed in two classes in the TTXGP series. The harsh and testing environment of racing was a good proving ground for the technology and its reliability, and led to the development of a road version: Energica.
Fast forward to 2015, Energica has a fully specified electric motorcycle range, a dealership network and is delivering its first batch of bikes to some lucky customers. Along the way has been several tradeshows and exhibitions, one of which was at the Monaco ePrix. Energica was part of an exhibition at the Convergence initiative launched during the ePrix event. Livia Cevolini, boss of Energica Superbike, a charming and enthusiastic lady spoke to a queue of interested delegates (including DSVirgin Formula E boss, Alex Tai) about the latest Italian masterpiece from Modena.
Her company now boasts three models of superbikes:
Energica Eva & Ego: Energica Ego has a synchronous oil-cooled motor with permanent magnets and has 100kW of instantaneous power at its disposal. Ego accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 150 mph. Clients are taking delivery of the Ego this year, and the Eva is expected on sale soon.
Energica Ego45: The Ego45 is a unique version of the electric superbike celebrating the 45th anniversary of its manufacturer, CRP Group. The exclusive and customisable Ego45 is made to special order as a maximum of 45 units will ever be built.
Guest writer Bunmi Ade recently interviewed Energica CEO, Livia Cevolini about the company’s growth and a possible return to racing.
Energica was “born” in Modena, home of iconic supercar, Ferrari. So what was the motivation to develop an electric superbike rather than a petrol or hybrid?
It’s not a coincidence that Energica was developed here; we live in the Italian Motor Valley! We are raised with fast and gorgeous cars and bikes. Energica was born here in Modena, in the capital of speed, from an entrepreneurial vision of my family between 2008 and 2009.
During those years, we decided to start looking at what we thought was the future, like electric vehicles. We decided to focus on something completely new, with completely new technologies, and in a market where there was still time and space to be heard. This is why we decided to develop an electric bike instead of a petrol or hybrid bike.
We had two years of racing that served primarily as Technology Scouting, then in 2011 we started working on the road version, Energica. We started to fit the needs of a streetbike with the new electric technology and the differences of the racing market; from here we arrived at the Energica Ego, which is currently on sale.
The development timescales are quite impressive – do you have any unique technologies and patents from developing the superbikes?
Yes, several patents have been registered for Energica: battery packs, the VCU, the ride-by-wire and Windform materials – a unique composite material within the additive manufacturing and 3D printing sector. On the development of the superbike, CRP Group technologies played a key role (her brother Franco is CEO of CRP).
Projects that would normally take 4 to 6 years in big companies, in our case were made possible thanks to the CRP technologies developed for F1 and the aerospace industry. This allowed us to shorten the time to market, to shorten the research time and manage costs efficiently.
Current models of your superbike include the Energica Ego and Eva, and the exclusive Ego45 with a rumoured price-range of around $34,000 – 68,000. What are the most expensive components and where do you predict cost-savings in the electric vehicle industry in thenear future?
The most expensive part of the bikes are the batteries and electronics. EV industry is still strictly linked to technology costs. Battery packs represent main components even if constant reductions are predicted by every operator. In this early phase of the market, only mass production can produce economies of scale but we refer to automotive standard volumes. Energica as motorcycle company has small numbers compared to OEMs, so we expect to leverage the industry cost-savings gained in the next years.
Are there any riders that you’d like on your team if there was a suitable racing series, for instance if Formula E decided to have an eBike support race
Sure, we have Alessandro Brannetti, the professional racer and the official Energica Tester. With him we won the title of European Champion TTXGP 2010 and then we achieved second place at the World Final Albacete. I can’t imagine another rider but Alessandro on our team.
Do you feel an extra sense of responsibility and / or more scrutiny because you are female CEO in a male dominated industry?
True. There aren’t many companies led by a female entrepreneur. A female CEO sounds just as strange as a woman in the F1 paddock. It’s a typically male dominated industry and sometimes one can feel more scrutiny, but this has always motivated me instead of surrendering or feeling belittled.
At the speed the company is growing, Energica is certainly well on the way to being the Ferrari of electric motorcycles.
Watch: A Tesla Roadster vs. Energica Ego:
Photos by Energica.