DENVER — So here I am, minding my own business at a conference on the future of nanotechnology and up to the podium comes the very blond Eva Håkansson, the Swedish-born crew chief and driver for the KillaCycle Electric Racing Team. She calls herself “a hardcore electric vehicle geek with a green heart and a passion for power and speed.”
The young graduate student in engineering at the University of Denver is building an ultra-fast, plug-in motorcycle that could be the quickest ever when it takes to the Bonneville Salt Flats later this year. But first she’s going to conquer Pikes Peak on her ElectroCat, an electric motorcycle she built herself back in Sweden. I’m a reporter, so how could I resist a story like that? Here, she tells it herself on video:
Håkansson is on a mission. She projected a slide of what looked like an electric toaster, with the legend “Electric drive = boring.” She drove down the aisle at her wedding (to an American guy; that’s how she ended up in the U.S.) astride ElectroCat. What used to be the gas tanks says in script, "Gasoline? That's so yesterday."
“I want to make EVs exciting,” she said. “I am addicted to power and speed, but I’m also very green — and many people are like me. Guilt will only sell so many cars, so EVs have to be fast, cool and make the neighbors jealous.”
ElectroCat can reach 100 mph, has a range of 60 miles, and will soon get a rack of nanotech-enabled A123 batteries (hence Håkansson’s appearance at the conference). It’s slow from her point of view, but if it makes it up Pikes Peak for the hill climb in June (the first year electric motorcycles have been allowed) it will be a Guinness-type record.
The KillaJoule consists of a welded steel-moly frame around which her team (consisting of her husband and veteran racer father) are designing an 18-foot lightweight composite body. Håkansson hopes it will top 200 mph, setting a new record for electric motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats in September. At that speed, it will be as much an airplane as it is a motorcycle. The body’s aerodynamics needs to keep it on the ground.
The ultimate goal for the KillaJoule is the land speed record for all motorcycles, but that will take a few more years and a lot of engineering.
Fast battery motorcycles run in the family, and Håkansson and husband Bill Dubé are kindred souls. He is the major force behind the KillaCycle, billed as the world’s fastest electric motorcycle. It is capable of reaching 60 mph in one second and completing a quarter mile in 7.89 seconds at 168 mph. Dubé and his racer pals are a big part of making the KillaJoule go.
Who can deny that high-speed electric motorcycles are sexy? And in the very outgoing Eva Håkansson, they have found their perfect spokeswoman.