The Mission One motorcycle is undeniably sexy. With a design by Yves Béhar and a top speed of 150 miles per hour, it's meant to drop jaws. (At $68,995, it should.) But Mission Motors, which is now taking reservations for the bike and is slated to start delivery in mid-2011, has another goal in mind: to show off technology that it believes can easily be transferred to all manner of electric vehicles. "It's always much easier to take a technology down and make it cheaper," says CEO Jit Bhattacharya. "Our strategy from the start was to push the limits of what was possible and then to find the right partners for that technology."
Because all EVs basically boil down to a battery pack, a motor, a controller, and the cartilage to link them, Bhattacharya believes the Mission One's innovations in power management, space savings, and design will be widely applicable to other vehicles. Those of us without $70,000 for a motorcycle can only hope he's right.
Béhar created a seat that cantilevers high above the rear wheel, to visually emphasize the lack of exhaust pipes. The triangular grating echoes the shape of the battery frames within.
"I wanted to create visual continuity," says Béhar, "from the face of the bike to the back, headlight to taillights." He integrated the LED headlight into the face of the bike, which has a stealth bomber's faceted look, softened by smooth, fluid lines that run the length of the motorcycle.
The bike's heaviest components are spread throughout the body to mimic a motorcycle's typical weight distribution. The hundreds of cells are monitored individually to improve battery life.
The Cooling System:
Heat buildup can sap both motor and battery efficiency. A liquid cooling system runs throughout the motor and the controller.
This device sends power from battery to motor using a number of individual switches controlled by complex algorithms to maximize motor performance.
A version of this article appeared in the April 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.