WOW Motorcycles, located at 508 Cobb Parkway in Marietta, a few blocks south of The Walker School, began selling electric motorcycles at the end of August. The motorcycles, made by Santa Cruz, Calif.-based ZERO Motorcycles, are virtually silent; take four hours to charge, which lasts on average about 50 miles; cost less than 50 cents to charge; have no clutch or transmission; can be charged with a three-prong cord that hooks up into almost any outlet; can reach speeds up to around 60 mph; and have battery lives of about 70,000 miles.
And because they run on a battery charge, they need little maintenance.
“We will see a surge in these types of motorcycles in the next few years,” said Candy Caliendo, project manager for WOW.
Caliendo said WOW employees have noticed a tremendous interest in the bikes, but most people turn away from them for fear of losing power while they are driving. But Caliendo said it only takes about an hour to charge the motorcycle up to 90 percent. She said that once, when her own ZERO motorcycle ran out of charge while she was in town, a restaurant let her plug in, and she had enough charge to get home in less than an hour.
Depending on the model, the ZERO motorcycles cost between $7,995 and $10,495, which Caliendo said is more than the cost of a gas engine motorcycle, but the cost of ownership for an electric motorcycle is up to almost $6,000 cheaper over just a three-year span. In addition, the federal government offers tax credits to those who buy electric motorcycles, ranging from $1,599 to $3,148, depending on the model.
Electric vehicles of all types have grown in popularity as gas prices soared in recent years and consumers began searching for gas alternatives.
Don Francis, executive director of Clean Cities Atlanta, a nonprofit sponsored by the Department of Energy, said he expects just about every car manufacturer to soon be building a plug-in, hybrid or both. Many manufacturers have already been selling hybrid vehicles for several years, such as the Toyota Prius.
In Cobb, Team Nissan of Marietta opened a new location this summer at the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Barclay Circle in Marietta, which sells Nissan’s current catalogue of vehicles, but also sells Nissan’s new entirely electric vehicle, the LEAF.
Depending on the features, the LEAF costs between $32,000 and $35,000; however, buyers of the car are also eligible for a federal tax credit of $7,500 and a state tax credit of $5,000, Francis said. The tax credits are part of President Barack Obama’s plans to have 1 million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015, he said.
The Marietta City Council voted in April to allow for a parking space on the Marietta Square to be reserved for electric vehicles, which could also include a charging station. City of Marietta economic development manager Beth Sessoms said on Thursday that the city is still considering purchasing a charging station for the space, which would cost between $10,000 and $15,000, but Sessoms said they are waiting for the GE WattStation to come out.
“It was supposed to come out this fall, but it’s been delayed,” Sessoms said. “We like that one because has a retractable cord. Other ones don’t, and we were concerned about a tripping hazard. Once GE lets me know when they’re coming out, then we’ll also be trying to find out how to pay for them.”
Sessoms said making the Square an electric vehicle-friendly destination is important as the city continues to try to lure visitors to the heart of the city.
“We recognize that as the technology improves and battery storage capacity improves, there will be more and more hybrid vehicles on the market, and the Marietta Square is a destination for people in Cobb County,” Sessoms said. “And many other places around Atlanta are installing them. I believe there is one in Atlantic Station, and they’re popping up all over places like Tennessee and North Carolina. It just makes sense.”
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