The California Energy Commission is handing Zero Motorcycles a $1 million grant – which the electric bike company will match – in order to continue developing and building bikes in the Golden State. But why?

The CEC is granting Zero $1,009,220 and Zero is matching that figure down to the penny to allow it to “expand its production capacity through improvements in its manufacturing line, production efficiency and engineering processes.”

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On it’s own, the fact California is issuing Zero a grant isn’t particularly interesting. It’s still the only U.S.-based electric bike manufacturer that’s actually producing and selling a bike to consumers. But the timing is.

Brammo was just sold and rolled into Polaris where it’s basically turned into an R&D arm (and a rebadged racing team), while the two other electric motorcycle bike makers in California – Alta and Mission – still haven’t delivered after years of promises.

Italy’s Energica is just beginning to get some attention and Harley-Davidson is gearing up for the presumed launch of the Livewire this year as Japan continues to explore electric bikes but refuses to commit to anything serious.

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But exactly why the CEC is issuing this grant raises some questions. Zero has the investment and cash coming in the door, so it’s unclear as to why the CEC is getting involved aside from promoting an alt-power company that’s based in the state. But if competition is finally coming from the big bike makers, Zero will need all the help it can get, and the CEC is obviously happy to help.


Contact the author at damon@jalopnik.com.
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