Relocation to the former Walmart building in Talent may be one of the elements that will help Brammo Inc. achieve sales of more than 1,000 electric motorcycles this year, says company Chief Executive Officer Craig Bramscher.
"We went from 25,000 square feet to 100,0000 square feet," said Bramscher. "We've got lots of room for expansion."
Brammo's operations had been spread across five buildings in Ashland. Now 55 employees are in Talent, while five remain in a battery lab in Ashland until one is finished inside the new facility on West Valley View Road. The CEO senses a new energy in the operation.
"Much of it is just physically getting folks under one roof," said Bramscher.
Increased efforts to sell the bikes in Europe could also help sales numbers, which have been in the hundreds through 2013. Specific figures can't be released due to federal Security and Exchange Commission rules, because the firm is raising capital at this time, he said.
Besides selling more motorcycles, the firm expects to benefit by supplying battery packs to other producers of electric-powered sporting vehicles.
"We believe we have the best lightweight units out there," said Bramscher. "We're starting to get a lot of interest."
Bramscher said the facility has the capacity to assemble 5,000 bikes per year. At that level it would employ 300 workers. Battery construction, motorcycle assembly, research and development, engineering, administration and marketing will all be housed in the building.
While most of the equipment was moved from Ashland, the firm has added a new system for accounting and control. A hand fabrication shop, lacking in Ashland, has been added for research and development.
A six-station assembly line is fed by adjacent subassembly stations. Company personnel then road test each bike or put it on a dynamometer if weather is bad.
The Empulse motorcycle, with a price of $18,995, is assembled in Talent. The Enertia Plus, at $10,995, is assembled in Europe.
The majority of the bike is American made, although the chassis and Brembro brakes come from Italy.
Brammo has developed flat lithium ion battery cells, like those in smartphones, to deal with overheating issues. The cells are placed into packs that are attached to the motorcycle. Heating devices around the packs help charging in cold weather and prevent damage.
"Brammo's proprietary technology is the incorporation of the heating," said Brian Wismann, director of product development.
An Empulse's battery pack weighs 36 pounds and puts out 60 horsepower. The first Enertia bike had a 25-pound pack with 15 horsepower. An Empulse has the equivalent of 1,704 iPhone 5 batteries, said Wismann.
"As far as we know, it's the one with the best energy density in the industry," said Wismann.
Homologation, the granting of approval by official authority, is being sought to allow sales of the Empulse in the European Union, said Bramscher.
In the U.S., motorcycles are largely viewed as leisure vehicles, but elsewhere they are seen as having utilitarian uses, says Director of Marketing Adrian Stewart. Hong Kong's police, fire and water departments all use the Enertia bike, he noted. He's promoting the bikes for fleet use by post offices and other agencies.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.