Terra Motors – a Japanese company best known to us for its electric tuk tuk endeavors – has unveiled an intriguing electric motorcycle, dubbed the Kiwami, at the ongoing Auto Expo 2014 in India. A quick glance of the bike on the company's Indian website reveals a sharp-looking machine that might, just maybe, convince the deep-of-pocket to part with Rs 18 lakh ($28,690 US at today's exchange rates). A closer look raises cause for concern.

Under the concealing body panels lies a Zero S from Zero Motorcycles.

Certainly the pitch is attractive. Hand-made in the Land of the Rising Sun specifically for the Indian market, it's said to offer performance akin to that of a gas-powered 1,000cc super bike, while freeing owners from the tyranny of the petrol pump. All, however, does not seem as it appears, as lurking behind the twin LED projector headlights and under the concealing body panels lies an electric bike that we here at AutoblogGreen are quite familiar with: the Zero S from Zero Motorcycles.

Now, it would be a great thing if the Scotts Valley, California company had licensed its tech to an upstart Asian firm, especially one with confidence in selling 10,000 units in its first year. India has a huge motorcycle market and a battery-powered bike could potentially carve itself out a nice niche. At least, it could if it were properly priced.

Speaking with Zero's vice president of global marketing Scot Harden, however, we learned that the motorcycle maker was itself shocked to see the S underpinning the Kiwami, and that there is no licensing or supply agreement in place. Yes, they had shipped them a couple drivetrains for supposed prototype development, but the company has no connection to Terra beyond that. In light of the situation, Zero Motorcycles has now fired off a cease-and-desist letter and says it plans on seeking "legal remedy."

That a company might attempt to pass off another's product as its own seems a bit bizarre in a world where information is instantly shared around the globe, so could it be that the rendering on the website was just an artist's conception, and that the bike on display is actually an original design? No. Our good friends over at India Autos Blog happened to be on hand for the presentation and took pictures. Lots of them, and they've graciously agreed to share them with us. If you click on the gallery above, you'll see that the Terra Kiwami sports the same frame, the same motor and many other components as the Zero S. Heck, it even has the same mirrors.

The situation could be business naiveté mixed with poor communication skills.

Of course, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the situation could be put down to business naiveté mixed with tremendously poor communication skills, rather than nefarious intent. Looking over the specs of the Kiwami reveals that accurately relaying information may not be one of Terra's strong points. It rates the motor at a paltry 10 kilowatts (13.4 horsepower), which is neither in line with Zero's peak rating of 40 kW (54 hp), or the website's claim of "accererlation" [sic] equal to that of a "1000cc Level" bike.

We've contacted Terra Motor and have, so far, received a short reply to the effect that they are assessing the situation and talking with Zero, seeking, one would imagine, a quick and mutually beneficial resolution. While we wait to hear word of any outcome, please feel free to scroll below for the official press release along with a little walk-around video, again from Indian Autos Blog, and perhaps ponder along with us in Comments the possibility of an official launch later this year as suggested in this interview.

Show full PR text
Terra Motors Forays into Indian Two Wheeler Market
  • ∙ World first to introduce Kiwami to the discerning bike enthusiasts
  • ∙ Priced at Rs. 18 lakhs approximately, Kiwami is the first electric super bike to be launched in India
  • ∙ With a speed of 160 km/hr, Kiwami is positioned as vibrant electric super bike with stylish design
Delhi, January 28, 2014: In a major initiative, first of its kind, Terra Motors Corporation, the No.1
manufacture of electric two & three wheelers in Japan, today announced their presence by
introducing Kiwami India's first ever 1000cc electric superbike in India.

Catering to attract the youth, motorcycle enthusiasts, and consumers in urban cities who look for
ecofriendly variants, Kiwami which in Japanese means 'Ultimate' produces 10kw max motor
capacity and is an amalgamation of advanced technology and innovation that epitomizes speed;
its rapid acceleration allows a fantastic high speed of 160km/hour and is absolutely handbuilt
with Japanese state-of-the-art technology.

Commenting on the foray of the company in India, Mr. Toru Tokushige, Chief Executive
Officer (CEO) &Founder of Terra Motors said, "India is the second largest producer of
twowheelers in the world. Hence it is an important market in our strategic growth plan and we
intend to invest Rs. 300 million in the Indian market next fiscal year. With this mission, Terra
Motors is set to deliver electric vehicle (EV) of high quality and services in the tradition of what
consumers in India come to appreciate and expect from the Japanese industry."

"Terra Motors, endeavors to be the front runner in the electric two wheeler segment and with the
introduction of esuperbike, we strongly believe that our products with superior quality and stylish
designs are made with thorough research and development. With immense knowledge of
electric vehicles, we will associate ourselves with the dealers who are well experienced in
service quality and will enrich customer's experience," Tokushige added.

In addition to this, Terra Motors will soon introduce series of executive escooters,
which will target premium consumers who expect a stylish and sophisticated high end product. These bikes and a three wheelers option will be showcased at the upcoming Auto Expo 2014.
With just 6 hours required for fully charging – Kiwami superbike will be ready to be driven over
200 kilometers, making it the highest running distance by any electric motorbike ever in India.

The premium super ebike is the personification of a complete urban mobility solution for a sustainable zeroemission society, and thus gains relevance in the face of important issues like
environmental degradation, pollution related health concerns and rising oil prices, all of which
plague our communities globally. Terra Motor's vision extends beyond simply introducing a
vehicle of speed and superior design; it proudly endeavors to offer innovative products that are
technologically smart and environmental friendly leaving no carbon footprint.

About Terra Motors
Terra Motors Corporation is the leader in manufacturing electric two & three wheelers in Japan.
Founded in 2010, its headquarters are based in Shibuya, Tokyo and also has branch offices in
Vietnam and Philippines. The company currently has over 1,000 dealers and 3000 service
networks in Japan. Recently, Terra Motors was short listed for the government tender in the
Philippines.

Terra Motors portfolio boasts of an impressive list of stockholders that include one of the most
distinguished names in Japan. It includes: Mr. Idei, former chairman of Sony, Mr. Yamamoto,
former vice president of Apple Japan, and Mr. Tsujino, former president of Google Japan among
others.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 2 Days Ago
      Why wouldn't it be a good idea to reverse engineer a Zero? If you count out the "super electric bikes", which you'll need a barrel of money to buy, Zero has the best bikes, IMO.
        Ricardo Gozinya
        • 2 Days Ago
        Because Zero's bikes aren't very good. They're maybe on par with ICE bikes 1/3 their price, and utterly dominated by anything even 1/2 their price. Poor suspension, brakes and chassis, with a powertrain that's utterly unremarkable. There's just nothing there to reverse engineer. And as far as costs go, Zeroes, along with Brammos, for what they offer, are ridiculously overpriced. Those really expensive ones, like Mission, are, despite the high price tag, a better value.
      • 2 Days Ago
      If they mange to make them in China fir half price then we will have a product that would interest the market because at the moment the zero offering is far to expensive to garner any significant sales outside first adopters. Maybe the Chinese could make it more reliable too, that would be ironic...
      • 2 Days Ago
      To me, it's looks like a commute/dual sports kind of bike. In that segment, I believe it does well compared to it's ICE competition. I mean, there is no ICE bike with an interesting engine character or similar in that segment. What you want in such a bike is a smooth powerband, and generally easy to operate. I haven't ridden the Zero, so I can't say much about it. But it looks like it's a good commute bike, and probably nice to ride on gravel roads and such. It's performance is probably better than the hp-rating says, since there are no gears, and it has got good torque, so you are always "in the right gear". About the price, I'm sure it's about the same monthly cost, or less, as any other bike in that segment, if you look at the whole picture. No servicing, no gas. I don't know much about the American market, but I would think the insurance is lower. I love sport bikes and engines with a more peaky and noisy character. It's so exciting to ride them. Especially at the track. But i just can't use such a bike for my daily commute. I think the best commute bike I've had was the GSX750EF -84.
      protomech
      • 2 Days Ago
      Zero has one of the most power dense motors and battery packs in the industry, 2.8 kW / kg and ~140 kWh/kg fully assembled. Show me an ICE bike that does 0-60 in 4.8 seconds for $4.3k, or 0-60 in 3.3 seconds for $5.7k.
      DarylMc
      • 2 Days Ago
      Hi Ricardo We've had this discussion before. Regarding this particular motorcycle, well I struggle to see the point as well. But Zero and Brammo should be praised for their efforts to get an electric motorcycle to market. Until someone makes something better, they are the best that is available right now. Cost doesn't come into the equation since there is few other options for electric bikes. Until that happens they are the best value, highest quality electric bikes available. Whether they can compete for value and performance against gas motorcycles just doesn't matter and it certainly can't help to run down a fledgling manufacturer. Many thanks to Domenick for the 2 wheel updates:)
      DarylMc
      • 2 Days Ago
      Hi protomech 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds. I just had a look at their website since I never realised they were that zippy. But "140 kWh/kg" I wish :)
      Ricardo Gozinya
      • 2 Days Ago
      Of all the bikes to reverse engineer, they chose Zero? And compared it to a superbike? Now that's funny!
      • 2 Days Ago
      I also thaught it is very bizarre to sell a „japanese handmade“ 2013 Zero S in India at a price 25 % higher than in Europe and I published this article on my website yesterday: http://www.motomobil.at/newsstories/news/630-terra-motors-kiwami I am glad that here on Autobloggreen I find the same opinion, since on many websites all over the world there is enthusiasm about the „first japanese E-Bike with 10 kW and 1000 cc performance“, hehe … Motomobil, Austria
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Days Ago
      Kiwami? How do you pronounce that? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSOlQRjlyn4
      Gabe
      • 2 Days Ago
      Have you ridden a Zero?