Aprilia has used EICMA as platform to hint at a future electric model – showing the ELECTRICa ‘project’ at the show in Milan. Reading between the lines the implication is that a production version of this machine is part of the company’s plans.
Perhaps in acknowledgement that the crusty generation of motorcyclists currently propping up the market isn’t ready to make the wholesale switch to electric propulsion, Aprilia is targeting a future generation of riders. Basically, it’s appealing to kids who aren’t yet old enough to ride, but might be by the time the ELECTRICa or its descendants reach showrooms.
It's a clever move, in many ways. As an entry-level machine for young riders, the most important elements are ease of use, and limited performance can be seen as a benefit rather than a hindrance. Aprilia says the bike is a “vision of mobility for the youngest riders of the near future” – words that could be taken to imply that the performance is in the 50cc moped category, where riders as young as 14 are allowed in some European countries.
The bike’s electric motor is mounted on the front of the swingarm – something that’s been seen before on the similarly-proportioned Voge ER10 – with a chain drive to the rear wheel. It’s a single-speed, direct drive system, allowing Aprilia to do away with foot controls entirely and move the rear brake to the left-hand bar, scooter style. Again, that’s a conscious choice, with the intention of making the bike a straightforward alternative to a scooter and something that existing moped riders will easily be able to switch to.
Specs are understandably limited, but Aprilia promise keyless start and LCD instruments, and it’s clear that while the bike is still a concept at the moment it’s not a far-fetched one. Companies in China already make bikes along these lines – and Aprilia’s parent, Piaggio, has plenty of ties over there – so buying in a battery and motor system from an existing supplier and putting the ELECTRICa into production could be done almost immediately if Aprilia decides there’s enough demand and the bikes could be made at a profit.