Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 17th May 2019

Triumph has joined Ducati and Harley-Davidson after announcing that it is developing technology that will likely lead to an electric model in coming years.

Britain’s largest motorcycle manufacturer is joining forces with Oxfordshire-based Williams Advanced Engineering, a spin off from the famous Formula One racing team, Integral Powertrain and WMG, which is affiliated to the University of Warwick. The project is supported, and partly-funded, by the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). Together, they are working on a two-year programme, called Project Triumph TE-1, that aims to develop technology and provide input for Triumph’s strategy regarding the development of future E models.

“This new collaboration represents an exciting opportunity for Triumph and its partners to be leaders in the technology that will enable the electrification of motorcycles, which is driven by customers striving to reduce their environmental impact, combined with the desire for more economical transportation, and changing legislation,” said Nick Bloor, Triumph CEO. “Project Triumph TE-1 is one part of our electric motorcycle strategy, focused on delivering what riders want and expect from their Triumph, which is the perfect balance of handling, performance and usability.”

The project will be led by Triumph, who will provide their chassis technology and motorcycle dynamics know how. Williams will be responsible for development of the batteries and controllers, and will provide it’s R&D facilities, while Integral Powertrain’s e-Drive division will develop the electric motor and silicon carbide inverter. WMG will bring their electric vehicle (EV) expertise to the project, and will be looking at the commercial side of electric motorbikes, while Innovate UK, the government agency will administer funds.

“Our future product strategy is focused on delivering the most suitable engine platforms for the changing landscape of customer needs, and we see a Triumph electric powertrain as a significant requirement alongside our signature twin and triple cylinder engines, said Steve Sargent, Triumph’s Chief Product Officer. “As part of our electric motorcycle initiative, Project Triumph TE-1 represents an exciting collaboration that will provide valuable input into our future line-up. We are incredibly pleased to have the support of OLEV and Innovate UK, and to be working together with the UK’s electrification experts and academic leaders, in an endeavour that ultimately is focused on the future prosperity of British industry, and the future of motorcycling.”

“The team at Williams Advanced Engineering is looking forward to applying our expertise in the electrification of transport with our partners,” added Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering.  “Williams has powered a number of world-renowned electric vehicles already and this will be a significant further step in our work by taking that knowledge onto two wheels.”

“Integral Powertrain has always pushed the boundaries of e-drive technology working with clients to find the best solution to meet their exact requirements”, said Andrew Cross, Chief Technical Officer at Integral Powertrain Ltd. “This project will draw upon the extensive motor and EV experience gained over the past 20 years working with major OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in the automotive and motorsport sectors. We are extremely pleased to be supporting Triumph Motorcycles with their future electrification strategy and in a project where we can apply our experience to engineer an extremely power dense, efficient and highly integrated motorcycle electric drive.”

Professor David Greenwood, Professor, Advanced Propulsion Systems at WMG, University of Warwick, added: “Electric motorcycles will have a vital role to play in future transport across the globe – delivering reduced congestion and improved urban air quality as well as easing parking. They will also be great to ride, with copious, easily controlled torque delivered smoothly at all road speeds. WMG has experience of battery technology and vehicle electrification for road, rail, sea and air which it will bring to this exciting sector. Our expert team will lead the modelling and simulation work within the project, to ensure the vehicles are safe and efficient without compromise to dynamic performance.” 

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly common on British roads, with vehicles like Nissan’s Leaf, the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf proving popular with mainstream buyers, while models from Jaguar and Tesla are desirable at the luxury end of the market.

Small delivery style scooters are also becoming more commonplace in London, but so far full-sized electric motorcycles have yet to break into the mainstream. So far the leading lights have been specialist manufacturers Energica, who provide the bikes for the new MotoE race series, and American company Zero Motorcycles, whose new-for-2019 SR/F has been receiving positive reviews. Harley-Davidson will also have its first e-motorcycle, called the Livewire, on sale later this year, while Ducati has also confirmed that it is working on an electric model for sale in coming years.

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