climate 2022

New Electric Motorcycle Joins Vt. DMV Fleet

The battery-powered motorcycle will be used in designated traffic safety corridors and in commercial vehicle inspections

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A new, eye-catching addition to the fleet of the enforcement and safety division of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles is a first of its kind.

"I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for the future," Tony Facos, the director of the division, said of the DMV's new electric, automatic motorcycle.

The bike is capable of going from zero to 60 in just three seconds.

The Vermont DMV is the first agency in the nation to adapt a LiveWire, a sub-brand of Harley Davidson, for a highway safety mission, the department said.

"When you see it moving down the highway or in one of the pull-offs, you can't distinguish that is electric," noted Wanda Minoli, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles. "But we are here to say, very proudly, it is!"

The motorcycle will be a tool for commercial vehicle inspections, as well as for safety details in specific high-traffic sections of the interstate.

Beyond that, the commissioner and the enforcement and safety director said they hope the roughly $28,000 project also sends a message — one which recognizes the transportation sector is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

"We have to lead by example," Minoli said of adding to the DMV fleet a motorcycle that does not burn gasoline.

Vermont has one of the highest EV adoption rates in the nation, Minoli told NECN and NBC10 Boston, with more than five vehicles registered per 1,000 residents. Vermont is also continuing to add EVs to its fleet of state-owned vehicles, she added.

Massachusetts has set ambitious goals to get more electric vehicles on the road, but 70% of the way to its 2025 deadline, it has reached just 17% of its target.

"It tells the public that the Vermont DMV is paying attention," Facos said. "We're paying attention to climate change, and that we do need to take corrective action, sooner [rather] than later."

Dan Stevens, a master technician at Wilkins Harley-Davidson in central Vermont, had to figure out how to upgrade a standard LiveWire, installing lights, a siren, windshield, and radio for the DMV project.

"I feel it's a good stepping stone for what could come," Stevens said, adding that he views college campuses, airports, and stadiums as especially good places for public safety personnel to operate electric motorcycles.

According to Facos and Wilkins Harley-Davidson, the Vermont concept is currently getting a look from police departments around the country who are also interested in adding electric motorcycles to their fleets.

Facos acknowledged many consumers have expressed concerns about whether electric cars provide enough range for them, and said the electric motorcycle may not be a good fit for certain applications.

"This would not be a good platform if you had to do a lot of highway miles,” he said, explaining it would be better used for urban policing.

The model now in use gets 70 to 140 or so miles on a full battery, Facos said, depending on conditions and speeds — with the higher end of that range reflecting use in urban operations.

However, in time, with developing technology and the installation of more rapid chargers, the DMV predicted this first-of-its-kind will be joined on the roads of Vermont by many more greener EVs like it.

"It's good stewardship," Minoli said of having a motorcycle in her fleet that serves as a symbol of moving away from fossil fuels.

"From a climate solutions perspective, I see kelp farming as one of those coveted win-win options," said Dr. David Reidmiller.

According to the commissioner, Vermont is currently working to invest in electric vehicle charging stations, including spending $10 million on units for multi-unit housing, offices, parks, downtowns, and destinations such as museums. Another $6.25 million of spending is directed to expanding rapid-charge infrastructure along state highways, Minoli said.

Vermont has an EV purchase incentive program for drivers who meet certain income requirements. More information on that is available here.

Lawmakers serving in the Vermont Legislature got an up-close look at the new electric motorcycle last month when it was on display in the Vermont State House. Because it is quiet and has no exhaust, Facos rode it inside the historic building for a short distance at a low speed before positioning it for lawmakers to see.

He called it "kind of surreal" to operate a motorcycle inside the Vermont State House.

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