A new claimant for the title of "most powerful electric motorcycle in the world" was presented to admirers at the Paris Motor Show on Monday. The Voxan Wattman electric motorcycle, with 150 kW (200 hp) of power at full tilt, can pull the 350 kg (770 lb) bike from 0 to 160 km/h (0-100 mph) in 5.9 seconds, and has a top speed of 170 km/h (106 mph). With styling based on a scorpion's exoskeleton, this dramatic new entry is searching for its place in the sun.

The allure of an electric motorcycle is multi-faceted. The technology, the styling, the massive acceleration, and above all, the sheer distinctiveness of an electric makes owning one a statement about what floats your boat. Voxan Motors' Wattman is a new claimant to the most powerful throne.

Simply put, the best part of an electric motorcycle is the electric motor, and the worst part is the battery pack. The Voxan's motor can deliver 150 kW (200 hp) at 10,500 rpm, and generates some 200 Nm (150 lb ft) of torque over most of the torque curve. No transmission is needed beyond a simple belt drive, as the power and torque curves of the electric motor are so broad that shifting is unnecessary.

On the other hand, the battery pack is lithium-ion, and has an advertised capacity of 12.8 kWh. The battery pack weight was not provided, but is likely to be around 100 kg, or about 30 percent of the bike's total weight. A short calculation shows that the battery capacity will power the bike for about 5 minutes operating at full tilt. Most trips, of course, do not require this level of power.

Voxan estimates a fully-charged Wattman will have a practical range of 180 km (112 miles), based on the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) standard. However, on this largely urban driving cycle the average speed is 33.6 km/h (21 mph), which suggests that the batteries will last 5.35 hours at an average power of 2.4 kW (3.2 hp). I doubt this reflects typical use of a motorcycle, even in the city. However, the Wattman's rapid recharge cycle (80 percent capacity in 30 minutes, although this requires access to a 220 volt, 150 amp power source), albeit hard on the batteries, will help overcome the range limitations.

The Wattman introduces a new approach to motorcycle design, in which the usual tubular metal frame is largely replaced by an aluminum exoskeleton, which supports the components of the powertrain. While the front suspension is fairly conventional, the rear wheel is hung from a parallel four-link suspension, providing a stable and comfortable ride. Stylistically, the result is a design over which the eye flows smoothly, taking in the bike as an organic whole rather than pausing to focus on details.

The Wattman certainly does appear to be the most powerful semi-production electric motorcycle in the world, with its 150 kW of peak power exceeding that of the Lightning Motorcycles SuperBike (125 kW/165 hp).

However, it doesn't come close to the performance numbers of its competitors. The Wattman's 0-100 km/h (0-63 mph) time of 3.4 seconds is squashed by the Lightning's 0-160 km/h (0-100 mph) time of only 3 seconds. (The Wattman's 0-160 km/h time is 5.9 seconds.) Top speeds are not a contest either, with the Lightning racing along at up to 265 km/h (166 mph) compared to the Wattman's slower pace of 170 km/h (106 mph).

The likely answer to the difference between the performance numbers of the Wattman and the Lightning is that the Wattman needs to go on a diet. With a street weight of 350 kg (770 lb), the Wattman outweighs the Lightning by nearly 140 kg (310 lb). This is more than half of the Lightning's curb weight.

Unfortunately, the exoskeleton-like design of the Wattman is unlikely to allow the degree of weight reduction needed to convert the "World's most powerful electric motorcycle" into the world's fastest motorcycle. So does a powerful motorcycle that exhibits rather limited performance numbers deserve accolades for its (arguably) mediocre performance? I suggest not, although some may well find aspects of this quirky bike to love.

The Wattman will be hand-assembled unit by unit based on orders in hand, so the price is likely to be rather high.

Source: Voxan Motors