MAHLE Powertrain and White Motorcycle Concepts (WMC) have announced their collaboration to develop a fully electric three-wheeled motorcycle designed specifically for police, emergency first responders, and last-mile delivery fleets. This project is supported by a grant from the Niche Vehicle Network, backed by the Department for Transport and Innovate UK.
The aim of the project is to adapt the Yamaha Tricity 300 design to replace its combustion engine with a fully electric powertrain. The new electric powertrain will have fast-charging capability and a targeted 100-mile operating range, enabling emergency services to achieve their net-zero ambitions without sacrificing service levels.
Jonathan Hall, Head of Research and Advanced Engineering at MAHLE Powertrain, said, “Existing electric motorcycles have been designed with the retail market in mind, and can be both expensive and slow to charge. Because emergency services require high levels of availability and have an unpredictable demand, retail electric motorcycles are unlikely to present a cost-effective solution.”
The project builds on the success of the WMC300FR hybrid three-wheeled motorcycle, developed in partnership with Northamptonshire Police and currently on trial with emergency services across the country. The WMC300FR, as well as the upcoming fully electric version, incorporates WMC’s patented V-Duct. This central air duct significantly reduces drag, improving performance and efficiency.
MAHLE Powertrain will use their simulation expertise to determine the optimal powertrain specification for the electric three-wheeled motorcycle’s requirements. By analyzing real-world data in a comprehensively modeled virtual environment, MAHLE Powertrain will investigate various components such as traction motors and charger systems to arrive at the best possible configuration.
This work will also consider different battery topologies, from traditional slow-charging and low-cost options to novel ultra-fast technologies, and analyze how best to package these components within the motorcycle. A CAD-based study will also develop a concept that integrates the chosen traction motor and transmission into a new rear swing-arm.
The focus of the project on sustainability is evident beyond the target of delivering zero-emission transport for rapid response fleets. Recycled carbon-fiber will be used in the motorcycle’s construction, and the project will utilize a downsized battery pack with fast charging capability that reduces the use of rare earth materials.
Nick Adderley, Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable and UK Police lead for Motorcycles, said, “The hybrid three-wheeled bikes we now have in our fleet are providing an alternative, practical, and very visible way for our neighborhood police officers to get out and about in their communities. We need to continue to ensure we are prepared for the future with a sustainable fleet that not only meets the green agenda but also enables us to deliver the policing service our communities need and want. Our close involvement in these developments ensures the operational vehicle meets our specific requirements, and I look forward to seeing the output from this study.”
The electric three-wheeled motorcycle will also serve to make police more visible, which is rapidly becoming a key requirement in community policing, while the completed design can be easily adapted to other services such as paramedic first responders and even last-mile delivery duties. Crucially, the bike can be ridden on a standard car license, removing the need for specialist training.
Recent testing by the Metropolitan Police has confirmed the motorcycle’s suitability for high-speed work where aerodynamic stability is critical, even when equipped with heavily-laden panniers.
The feasibility stage of the project is scheduled for completion in March 2023. A follow-up project to develop the prototype units is planned, ultimately leading to small series production.
Source: WMC Press Release