Industry Insider: KTM’s CEO Says “There’s No Space in MotoGP For Electric”

A side view of a Ktm racebike
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KTM’s CEO, Stefan Pierer, is not a very big fan of electrification when it comes to bikes on the track. It’s gotten to the point where he’s flat-out said it to TopSpeed – and his perspective is a much-needed perspective when it comes to the less-said cons of electric motorcycles. 

“As President of ACEM, I can say that, unlike the automotive industry, we have a clear global vision of where we are headed,” he says.

“We are assuming that with 48-volt electrics up to A1 class (that is 11 kilowatts or 15 hp), a lot will become electric in the next ten years, especially in Europe.”

KTM's CEO with a KTM racer

Source: RRW

“That applies to scooters and mopeds. The whole two-stroke engine will go away. Everything that concerns motorized two-wheelers over 48 volts is going in the direction of e-fuels. There are very clear development plans between the manufacturers.”

“And that’s how we see it in the MotoGP World Championship. In the foreseeable future, we’ll be using e-fuels in MotoGP. My idea was, and I talked about it with those involved in 2021, to start earlier in Moto3 and Moto2 in order to gain experience.”

KTM's Moto2 track

Source: RideApart

Pierer’s predictions are hinged on the opinion that synthetic fuel is a better alternative – and we kind of see his point.  It’s CO₂-free (or low-carbon), it would allow a bike to keep many of the parts that are traditional for a petrol-powered engine, and upkeep would likely be cheaper…a lot cheaper. 

Low CO₂ gasoline isn’t a new concept. Volkswagon has already been spending nights in the lab on a lower-carbon fuel than what Germany already has; and with the country’s ‘R33 Blue Diesel,’ (which has been in use in Germany for the past couple of years with great success) now making way for a lower-carb option called ‘Blue Fuel’, the options KTM could have are keto-promising…at least in Germany.

There’s a darker slant to electrification, too. 

A view of KTM Bikes racing against each other

Source: Pierer Mobility

The big problem, Pierer stresses, is that the big companies have completely sidestepped using low CO₂ gasoline for the track, arguing that “the costly process of mining materials for battery production has a negative impact on the environment, let alone the fossil-fuel consumption to transport the MotoGP paddock around the world.”

“For a MotoGP motorcycle that drives a racing distance on 20 liters of fuel today, you would need a 500 kg battery to achieve comparable performance and range and to create the same energy density,” Pierer explains.

“Today we have 100,000 spectators at the MotoGP events that come because of the combustion engines.”

The most shocking fact he’s tossed out?

“The [electric bike] batteries in the paddock are charged with diesel generators. The CO2 emissions are steamed into the atmosphere, making you sick.”

Diesel generators? Yikes.

The irony is hilarious – and I don’t think the sponsors are told about that bit.

A view of Stephan Pierer, KTM's CEO

Source: KTM blog

“Until 2035 I see no replacement for the combustion engine in GP sport. And what will happen to the millions of existing combustion cycle machines?”

What do you think? Drop a comment below letting us know what you think – you know we love to hear from you. 

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Hope y’all are having an amazing 2022, and as always – stay safe on the twisties.

*Title media sourced from NewAtlas*

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  1. Seriously? Surely an example of an incumbent wishing to maintain the status quo while they figure out what the new industry business model looks like. All caught with their pants down.

    Diesel generators charging bike batteries? What a croc. Install fast chargers and source your energy from renewables.

    Look up!

  2. There are many edge cases that will be the last to electrify. Long(er) races are certainly on that list. The other way to look at it is that day an electric can finish a race on a single charge ICE is on the way out…

  3. Bravo. I too have concerns about not only the creation of Lion batteries but also the disposal of them. The whole issue of charging that needs a power source, be it a generator, wind, solar, or coal is often glossed over. That certainly has a cost and potential for emissions. I like the idea of alternative low CO2 fuels and think that is the direction we should go. We’re not going to eliminate gasoline and diesel vehicles for many, many years.

    1. Well I can’t help with your concerns about lion batteries, oddly enough your concerns disappeared with the creation of lightweight alloys or things like magnesium and drilling for oil and such like.
      Ostrich batteries are the go, they at least keep their head in the sand.

  4. This seems to me a bit of “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. I definitely think the long term environmental impact of Li ion batteries is not sorted out and the current outlook is pretty bleak due to the difficulty in recycling them. So until or only if that is sorted Ev’s are not going to be the panacea that they are being touted as. I do like that efuels can use most of the current infrastructure for storage transport and use. However, efuels like ev’s are reliant on electrical generation. Yet there really isn’t a vision that I’ve seen that explains how renewable electrical production is going to happen on a scale large enough to meet the demands of either of these approaches. If it exists I’d love to see it.

  5. e-Fuels will reign for some time. Hey, my question is where is ‘Quantum Glass’, or whatever it’s being called today? The issue of energy-density is practical-knowledge. Battery storage mediums are incapable of producing enough ‘stored energy’ upon demand and will NEVER reach the efficiency of LIQUID-stored, energy-density when ignited under compression.

  6. Electric cars make some sense in that weight is less of an issue and many cars get pretty awful mileage. My car uses about 55L of Chevron 94 every 350kms in the city, that’s pretty bad. My bikes on the other hand go through maybe 16L for the same distance. There’s no point in making motorcycles electric in that weight is a very big enemy to a motorcycle and they already get great efficiency.

    It’s too bad Stanley Meyer got killed as we could’ve just converted all of our existing gasoline and diesel powered engines to run on water (HHO) instead of petroleum based fuels. If there were no incentives for massive profits from energy, we would be there already!

  7. Some refreshing honesty in the mad rush to push ahead with EV,s at any cost no matter how expensive or impractical . I know its coming but there is no way racing let alone the real world is prepared at this stage , people in Europe have little understanding of the vast distances and lack of EV infrastructure in other countries around the world , Australia for one ?

  8. Might want to fact check your articles? Stefan Pierer’s statement that MotoE bikes are charged with diesel generators does not match what Enel-X (charging partner for MotoE) specifies.

    They use large battery units to charge the bikes, provided by solar. Plus they have smaller battery powered carts to charge the bikes and run the tire warmers on the grid.

    https://corporate.enelx.com/en/media/press-releases/2021/04/enel-x-launches-juiceroll-race-edition

    1. E-fuel may have a place in the future of transportation and racing but at the moment it’s energy density it much too low to be practical. The CO2 emissions coming out a vehicles exhaust may be 80% lower but the energy required for production is much higher vs gasoline.

      Forbes recently published a very in depth article related to E-fuel.
      https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmorris/2021/03/27/synthetic-fuels-wont-save-the-planet-so-dont-say-they-could/

      Racing has always been the fast track to innovation. MotoE and Formula E are incubators for EV progress. Just like in MotoGP and F1 these advancements will make their way into production vehicles.