• No Place For Electric in MotoGP Says KTM boss

Racing Should Remain Internal Combustion Engine-Powered

KTM boss Stefan Pierer has dismissed the idea that racing should go electric once fossil fuels become outlawed for road vehicles, that manufacturers should be concentrating on synthetic fuels instead.

No Electric for Racing Says KTM Boss

No Place For Electric in MotoGP Says KTM boss
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No Electric for MotoGP
Not necessary claims KTM CEO

KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has launched a scathing attack on ’uneducated politicians’ for their electrification agenda, arguing that it has no place in motorsport and that they should instead be concentrating on developing synthetic fuels for internal combustion engines. Electrification would spoil the spectacle of sport, he says and ignores advances made in ICE technology.

Even so, the KTM group, which, with KTM, Husqvarna and GasGas under its umbrella is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe, is still developing its own electric motorcycle models ahead of the ban of the sale of fossil fuels from 2035.

While the 2035 deadline is inevitable for road-going vehicles, there is pressure for racing to follow the same path but Pierer dismisses this because he believes there are no real-world gains in trying to make on-track action emission-free or trying to make the sport look eco-conscious, let alone diluting the spectacle of the sport if all the bikes were electric.

Manufacturers do have a commitment to make their racing machines reflect their road-going models but Pierer argues that this could happen with a concentration on the development of synthetic fuels.

No Place For Electric in MotoGP Says KTM boss
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Stefan Pierer
"Uneducated politicians’ comment the most sensible thing anyone has said for a while

“As President of ACEM, I can say that, unlike the automotive industry, we have a clear global vision of where we are headed,” he told Speedweek. “We are assuming that with 48-volt electrics up to A1 class, that is 11 kilowatts or 15 hp, a lot will become electric in the next ten years, especially in Europe.

“That applies to scooters and mopeds. The whole two-stroke engine will go away. Everything that concerns motorised two-wheelers over 48 volts is going in the direction of e-fuels. There are very clear development plans between the manufacturers.”

“And that’s how we see it in the MotoGP World Championship. In the foreseeable future, we’ll be using e-fuels in MotoGP. My idea was, and I talked about it with those involved in 2021, to start earlier in Moto3 and Moto2 in order to gain experience.”

He criticised politicians for pushing the electric agenda without taking the time to explore the benefits of other technologies, such as synthetic fuels. He argued that the costly process of mining materials for battery production have a negative impact on the environment, let alone the fossil-fuel consumption to transport the MotoGP paddock around the world and diesel generators to charge racing bike batteries in the paddock. Pierer believes MotoGP doesn’t have to ditch the ICE.

“Electromobility is nonsense that is pushed by politically uneducated politicians. An upsetting nonsense.

“For a MotoGP motorcycle that drives a racing distance on 20 liters of fuel today, you would need a 500 kg battery to achieve comparable performance and range and to create the same energy density.

No Place For Electric in MotoGP Says KTM boss
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MotoE Bikes
Electric is one way forward, but not the only one, says Pierer

“You have to come up with something stupid like this first. Today we have 100,000 spectators at the MotoGP events that come because of the combustion engines."

"The batteries in the paddock are charged with diesel generators, the CO2 emissions are steamed into the atmosphere, making you sick.

"Until 2035 I see no replacement for the combustion engine in GP sport. And what will happen to the millions of existing combustion cycle machines?

“The synthetic fuel is the solution, not the electric drive. Because this fuel is CO2-free. You also have to look at how many valuable raw materials are needed to manufacture an electric car compared to a conventional car. "

It’s an argument that we can find no flaw in. Electric might be the future in many peoples’ eyes but there are important questions to be asked: how clean is the production of batteries, where is all the electricity to come from, what happens to all the existing ICE-powered vehicles? And so on.

I’ve watched both a MotoE race and a MotoGP race and I know which one makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
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