After that, the 600 Zero S motorcycles that Saiki and his team of Scotts Valley builders will construct this year will be shipped around the world to commuters and motorcycle enthusiasts hungry to beat gas prices and lower their emissions.
“Sales are already going very strong,” Saiki said — 150 motorcycles have sold even before the first one has been shipped.
Interest in the Zero S is growing in London and Paris — two large cities with tight streets and major traffic issues.
London has plans to build 20,000 electrical plug-ins for vehicles by 2011, and France is offering subsidies to auto manufacturers that build electric vehicles.
After recent marketing visits to Paris, New York, London and Munich, Saiki came back to Scotts Valley enthusiastic about the interest he found.
“The Europeans are so crazy about this product,” Saiki said.
The Zero S is not a high-speed motorcycle. It only has a top speed of 60 mph, but its maneuverability and light weight make it ideal for a commuter in traffic, Saiki said.
In addition, the motorcycle continues to be nearly silent while costing less than 1 cent per mile in electricity.
In April, the company hosted a 24-hour endurance event and spent less than $100 on electricity to power 10 electric motorcycle teams through the entire race.
The frame is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum, and Saiki built a battery that provides 60 miles per charge and an easy plug-in system.
The Zero S has even qualified for a 10 percent rebate through the U.S. federal stimulus package, thanks to lobbying by the company.
The Zero S is a completely different design than its predecessor, the off-road Zero X. For example, it has street-legal tires, a new frame, brakes and suspension and a non-removable battery that’s twice the size. The X has a range of 30 miles, while the S can travel up to 60 miles on a single charge.
This month, the company announced the Zero MX, the second version of the off-road bike. The MX is built with an aggressive suspension package specifically for track riding and jumps, while the original X was built mainly for trail riding.
Zero has so far shirked the effects of the bad economy and might be the fastest-growing company in Scotts Valley.
Saiki has more than doubled his staff — from 20 in 2008 to 45 employees this year — and is quickly becoming known worldwide.
“People really want this electric motorcycle technology,” Saiki said.