Tony Kalniev is a Bulgarian ex-pat living the electric dream in Bangkok, and he snapped the pictures you see above. It seems almost an understatement to call Kalniev an electric vehicle enthusiast. He caught the battery bug after driving a Tesla Roadster in California some time back, and after moving to his adopted country, he converted a Toyota Yaris, as well as a scooter and the e-bike he uses to trim hours from his lengthy, daily commute to work. Recently, he added a 2015 Zero SR (Zero Motorcycles just became available in Thailand) to his burgeoning EV collection.
While awaiting the arrival of his new bike, Kalniev made a number of visits to the dealership where he happened upon this converted Ducati. Apparently, the folks behind the Bangkok Zero Motorcycles outlet also sell a number of other automotive and motorcycle brands, including the iconic Italian one, and so have the wherewithal for a project like this. The motivation, it seems, came from one particular executive who is a pretty big EV fan himself.
Basically, it's a Hypermotard gifted with the guts of a Zero FX. From what we understand, the idea was to catch customers' attention with the established brand, then get their butts on the seat to introduce them to the electric experience. Patrons would then have an expanded choice. They could buy a Ducati as they may have planned and, perhaps, get a Zero as well.
While we don't know how well this strategy has worked for its regular clientele, word has it that it may have been successful in getting one very significant butt on the battery bandwagon. According to the story told to Kainev, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali was in town – the company now produces its Scrambler in Thailand – and took the electric Duc for a ride on a track, followed by an outing on a revelatory Zero SR. Beaming from the experience, Domenicali supposedly remarked words to the effect that this was the first electric Ducati (we'll forgive him for not being aware of the original Mission Motors prototype), and that he had been convinced to work with Zero on an electric model.
If true, this could be a pretty big deal, both for Zero Motorcycles and electric bikes in general. Ducati is an aspirational brand that could lend further legitimacy to the cleaner, quieter drivetrain. Of course, being owned by Volkswagen Group (via Lamborghini, via Audi), the Bologna brand could probably find resources and EV engineering talent closer to corporate headquarters, though perhaps, none as familiar with the unique challenge of integrating bikes with batteries as within Zero.
There has been no official mention of any of this from Ducati, and we expect they would be unlikely to even mention the word electric until they had, at least, a plan in place. For its part, Zero Motorcycles has told AutoblogGreen that it couldn't comment on "strategic partnerships or collaborations unless we have something concrete to discuss." They did mention, though, that they look forward to other OEMs entering and expanding the market, and that sales of its 2015 machines "are tracking well ahead of last year."