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Zerotracer motorcycle throws down gauntlet to electric cars


July 6, 2010

The Zerotracer

The Zerotracer

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The Zero Race will see contestants dash around the globe in 80 days in zero emission, electric powered vehicles... and one of the most distinctive entries is the Zerotracer. Designed by a group of engineers from Winterthur, Switzerland, the Zerotracer is an electric motorcycle that encloses its two occupants in a Kevlar shell and is capable of a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) and a range of 350 km (217 miles) on a single charge.

The vehicle is based on a MonoTracer body but replaces that vehicle’s 4-cylinder in-line BMW K-engine with a battery-powered electric motor that provides 135 kW/183Hp to propel the Zerotracer from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds. Without passengers the body of the vehicle weighs less than 80kg (176-lbs) and the 18 kWh, 400V battery pack can be fully charged in two hours, while a quick charge can charge the battery pack to 80 percent capacity in less than 30 minutes.

Since the driver and passenger are enclosed in the vehicle’s Kevlar composite outer shell and can’t use their legs to stay upright when the Zerotracer isn’t moving the vehicle uses a pair of retractable wheels to stabilize itself when stationary. When retracted these wheels protrude from the side of the cabin to act as a “knee” to skim the road when cornering at high speeds.

Inside the cabin the occupants are treated to an almost noiseless ride thanks to the silent electric motor, unless of course they are listening to the Zerotracer’s stereo system. The vehicle also boasts a heating system and two bucket seats from which to enjoy the panoramic 250 degree-plus views provided by the plexiglass windshield.

The rules of the Zero Race state that the race teams must produce their own electricity using renewable sources such as solar, wind, wave and/or geothermal. This electricity must be then fed into the grid system in the home country of each team to offset the electricity used by the vehicles during the race. Taking care of this aspect is the team’s main sponsor, Oerlikon Solar, which will generate electricity from thin-silicon solar panels at the company’s headquarters in Trubbach, Switzerland.

With its aerodynamic design and impressive performance statistics the Zerotracer stands to be a real contender to take out the honors when the Zero Race kicks off in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 15. 2010. We’ll take a look at some of its competitors in the coming weeks.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Awesome! Reminiscent of the Venture 1 (though obviously not a trike), but apparently much closer to production. Now if they can just add air conditioning, I\'ll consider buying one here in Arizona. :)

Suman Subramanian

Seems strange not to mention that the ZeroTracer is essentially the same Peraves machine as the two E-Tracers that are taking part in the Progressive X-Prize in the USA - especially since Gizmag has written about them very recently! I had the pleasure and privilege of driving the first of the Peraves E-Tracers around the Brno GP track last July, and it is an awesome vehicle. PNB, London


About time they got rid of the messy, hot, smelly engine and put in EV drive. It\'s a perfect vehicle for EV\'s, light, aerodynamic gets great mileage from a small battery pack. On 18kwhrs it should go over 300 miles at 70mph or less. If it can\'t they designed it wrong.

But there is not a chance in h-ll that it weighs 80kg!! I\'m building my own version now and the tires, chassis weight almost that. An 18kw lithium battery weight more than 80kg itself.


I like it - it\' sensible, efficient and light.

Mr Stiffy

this \"bike\" looks like a real winner, all the vids I have seen show nothing I did not like


electric smetric. It\'s a great vehicle with an ICE -- leave it alone

Jerry -- I see you\'re still pushing the electric dream (or is that a nightmare) blah blah blah. Still not ready for prime time -- too bad the rest of the world isn\'t as smart as you -- all those problems would be solved!! HA!

Kenny Andersen

Great design configurations... just two questions:

(a) Whats the handling like in snowy conditions, and if you need to unwind the window to clear the rearview wing mirror, how do you go about it? (b) You driving along the motorway, and suddenly traffic goes to a snails pace... do the stabilisers automatically come out from the sides?

Nice & practical everything else thou!

Welldone Guys.

Harpal Sahota

\"Without passengers the vehicle weighs less than 80kg (176-lbs)\" This is complete and utter nonsense. Don\'t know how I missed it before. I know for a fact that this vehicle weighs well over half a tonne! (500kgs ) That\'s over 1100lbs in yank-speak. PNB

You're right, it is the body of the vehicle that weighs less than 80kg and not the entire vehicle. Thanks for picking this up and it's been fixed. Ed. paulblez

very nice clean design, if commercialised (even in kit form) with reasonable amount I would be definitely interested. well done

b. ozar

None of any of this means a dammed thing if the vehicles never make it to production.. It's just another toy if it's not realistically priced and can't make it into production to suit the needs of the general public ...Time for Americans to get something progressive and technically new in the way of transportation...But just as badly as something is needed on the west coast (sunny weather). So is something needed on the east coast but for all the seasons...EV's have to step up and have to provide for all in all environments...How about this same vehicle as a trike for the east coast with either a wide single tire in the back or two in the back ??? I'm a huge fan of all of these new and creative EV's and trike's coming forth these last few years but it is sad also seeing them go no where because they are just not practical in price or in general use for the multitudes...Would be GREAT!!! to see something actually make it off a drawing board or out of proto-type stage I'm so sick of hearing about this or that new proto-type then a couple months go by and next you hear the thing was placed in the garbage bin some where...WTF...

Kevin Thomas
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