Transportation | Ecotrope

"Fiscal Cliff" Deal Helps Oregon Electric Motorcycle Maker

Ecotrope | Jan. 3, 2013 6:03 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:27 p.m.

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Brammo manufactures electric motorcycles in Ashland. Congress voted to extend a 10 percent tax credit on electric bikes for another year.

Brammo manufactures electric motorcycles in Ashland. Congress voted to extend a 10 percent tax credit on electric bikes for another year.

An electric motorcycle maker in Oregon got a boost from the “fiscal cliff” deal Congress approved this week.

The deal included a one-year extension of tax credits for two-wheeled electric vehicles. Ashland-based Brammo manufactures several models of electric sport motorcycles – including racing bikes.

Its customers will continue to qualify for a 10 percent or $2,500 tax credit. The credit was set to expire in 2012.

Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher says the credit can offset a good chunk of the $19,995 price for his company’s most expensive motorcycle. Long term, he said, tax credits offer key support for cleaner battery power over gasoline.

“We see a tipping point coming in the future where battery technology is not just equal to gas but it’s much better than gas,” he said. “This tax credit helps us push more product, get the volume going and continue our R&D so we can get to that tipping point sooner than later.”Bramscher says his company fought for the original tax credit in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and got support from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Congressman Greg Walden for extending the credit in the latest tax deal.

He says electric motorcycles are much cleaner alternatives to gas-powered bikes and cars.

“Even if you burn coal to generate electricity for a motorcycle, it’s still 90 percent more efficient than trying to scrub a gas motor in terms of emissions,” he said. “On the emissions level, it’s a dramatic impact.”

With that in mind, he said he tried to get two-wheeled electric vehicles included in the bigger, $7,500 tax credit for four-wheeled electric cars such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf but got the 10 percent deal instead.

“Two wheels have been kind of shunned compared with cars,” he said. “It’s unfortunate because two wheels and three wheels are dramatically more efficient. If you put 10 kilowatt hours in a car, you’re going to go 8 or 9 miles. Put 10 kilowatts in a motorcycle and you go 100 miles. Which one should get the bigger tax credit?”

Bramscher said he’d like to see the tax credit for two wheeled vehicles extended for five years.

“That would give us a chance to build up the technologies so we can really wean ourselves off of oil at the same time,” he said. “My belief is a day in the future you’re going to look at people driving gas cars like most people look at people smoking in a restaurant today. I think that day is coming, and I’m betting the ranch on it.”

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