I found myself listening to my interview with Richard Hatfield again doing some fact finding. It has occurred to me that I have not assimilated the information in that interview as much as I would have liked or feel they deserve. It really is a very good interview in that I got to cover a lot of things with Richard and get a lot of things straight that I misconceived.
Let talk racing. They attended every round of the 2010 season, won all but the first race and took home the national championship, but did not attend the World Final. Then they started missing races. The first one was the first race of the 2011 season and because of the Isle Of Man’s TT Zero, and was also the only race they missed that year but the stigma sticks. They didn’t attend the World Final that year either. The second race they missed was also because of the TT Zero and was the second race of the 2012 season at PIR. The last race was Miller and was because they went to Le Mans with a lot of help with the FIM. Now, I talked to the TTXGP about working around the TT Zero and while they didn’t do a very hot job in 2011, it was one of their lessons learned and the teams had something like a 6 week window in 2012. It is what it is. A lot of conclusions can be drawn about their decision to go to Le Mans over Miller, and I’ve drawn most of them. But by his words it was to race Muench and ZongShen, the big crowds, lots of help from the FIM, and a personal dream to always go to Le Mans. What happened as a result was only one bike of their bikes qualified for the World Final that they didn’t attend anyway, they won a race handily which they might have lost at Miller, and gained Cameron Donald as not only their TT Zero rider but also their rider to compete in the 2013 European elmoto series. Now Cameron Donald has left the Honda TT Legends World Endurance and TT team to reportedly spend more time at home. I suspect this affect if he will be riding for Lightning either, but when I asked I was asked to wait for the press release, which is fair enough. So it may have paid off. Lightning has been to as many circuit races in the last two years as they attended in 2010. However, Richard said they are fully committed the 2013 season, even having conversations with the folks of Brammo and their riders. He also seems to truly be looking forward to having full on battles with Brammo. Some of this will be possible because they have multiple race bikes available right now. They have 7 bikes available from what he said. They were just working on finishing the tooling for the street bike fairings. This is the best way to support the series in my opinion. But this also allows them to send a bike over seas and have bikes that stay here in the US. So no more not being able to make races because of the TT Zero or other European races. I have often quoted the 240hp number I got from their former test rider, but Richard says that they aren’t getting quite that number to the rear wheel, and doesn’t share that info anyway. However they are working on building a new controller that should get them knocking on turbo Hayabusa territory, as well as continuing to develop the suspension. It sounds like they are planning on attending the racing series and have addressed road blocks that have prevented them from getting to the races in the past. Whether they attend the World Final or not is another question all together.
Production bikes. This year is quite likely be the year that Lightning properly releases not one but two bikes. In my interview with Richard he talks about how they have yet to work on brand building. I felt relief when he said that because it I think many of us elmoto fans that that was all they had for marketing and that no one was going to buy one of these awesome bikes. But to hear that they haven’t taken a serious stab at marketing or brand building gives me hope. I think they are intentionally staying low key until the have product the press can ride, and saving their money for R&D. Probably a smart move if you’ve watched the EV industry over the past few years, and might explain why they have been doing so many events and not focusing on the road racing. Maybe, just maybe this random schedule has been them probing markets and looking for the biggest bang for buck as far as racing goes. Or moving around and having fun before buckling down and really committing to something. Either way, stating that they are committed to this year’s racing season fits in with releasing their new bikes this year. But now it is feeling like the year of the elmoto even more as Brammo’s and Zeros 2013 bikes are really blowing their owners away and now possibly Lighting adding their offerings to that. They have customers, but only two so far. But it sounds like that is enough for them at the moment, not that they wouldn’t like more. It also sounds like there will be enough of the smaller 400-500cc equivalent bikes to qualify for the eSuperStock. But if they can sell a few more of the superbikes they’ll build enough of those to fill the eSuperStock ranks as well.
If anything American’s love to buy the bikes with the most horsepower and highest top speed, and demonstrating the Lightning’s raw power by going faster than turbo Hayabusas, and having more ponies than any other production bike out there, save for that jet engined one, is a sure fired way to sell bikes and fill seats.