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KTM boss dismisses electric for MotoGP as fallacy of ‘uneducated politicians’

KTM CEO Stefan Pierer reveals his frustration at the sweeping belief electromobility is the only solution for motorcycle, says MotoGP should retain ICE

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KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has spoken out against the prospect of adopting an electric platform in future for the MotoGP World Championship, saying it would spoil the spectacle of sport and blaming ‘uneducated politicians’ for too easily dismissing advancements in internal combustion engine technology.

The Austrian firm - which under the Pierer Mobility parent company owns KTM, Husqvarna and GASGAS - is the Europe’s largest motorcycle manufacturer is currently in the process of developing its model plan with electric powertrains in mind ahead of the proposed phase out of fossil fuel powered new motorcycles by 2035.

However, the impending change has left question marks over what it will mean for the future of motorcycle racing. Though motorsport isn’t bound to legislation, there remains a commitment from manufacturers to reflect their roadgoing models, a shift Dorna and FIM have attempted to explore with the introduction of the MotoE World Cup.

Despite this, the influential Pierer - who is also President of the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) - is cynical about the notion of MotoGP ditching the conventional ICE for electric power, in part because it would lessen the spectacle of the sport but also because he believes there are no real-world gains to be made in the sport attempting to seem eco-conscious.

“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, mopeds and mopeds. The whole two-stroke engine will go away. Everything that concerns motorized 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.”

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"Electromobility is nonsense..."

Expanding on his point, Pierer is not sold on the approach of governments that promote electric as the ultimate solution, saying it smacks of ‘uneducated politicians’ pushing an agenda in basic terms without exploring the benefits of other innovations, such as synthetic fuels.

Pointing out other factors such as powering charging stations and the costly process of mining materials for battery production have a negative impact on the environment, 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. 

“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. "