The electric motorcycle industry, mostly populated by startups so far, is getting new interest from old-guard manufacturers like BMW, which Tuesday unveiled its vision for an electric bike, the Motorrad Vision DC Roadster. 

BMW, which started building gasoline-powered motorcycles in 1923, plans to make the Motorrad a part of its 2023 launch of electric vehicle models. It will compete in a market consisting of smaller manufacturers like Zero Motorcycles, which began selling in 2006. 

The electric motorcycle industry isn’t dominated by a single company, giving BMW an opening to dominate the field. It will go up against competition like Harley-Davidson, founded 116 years ago, which releases its electric LiveWire motorcycle in August.

With BMW joining the field, many feel it could move the needle on safety and get consumers excited.

“Electric bikes are a good idea, but current manufacturers are making it too expensive for consumers, and you can’t ride them for a whole day — so I can’t use them right now for my tours,” says Adrian Lemasson, the founder of Tuscany Motorcycle Tours in Florence, Italy. “But I think the BMW brand will make people buy these electric bikes because they’ll feel safer with this brand and engineering,” Lemasson said.

Zero, based in California, launched its SR model in 2017 and Alta Motors, an electric motorcycle company founded nine years ago, launched its newest Redshift XER model this year. 

BMW showed off its electric vehicle initiatives by premiering the Motorrad BMW along with its Vision M Next, an electric car with autonomous driving features, which will compete with Tesla’s Model 3 and Volkswagen’s I.D. Concept. 

With BMW announcing the Motorrad, the EV motorcycle market is getting more competitive with well-established manufacturers. 
“I think the Motorrad may have to compromise the speed that they are well-known for with the new motorcycles,” says Chirag Patel, a BMW motorcycle enthusiast. “But it is still very exciting and it looks good. Even though there are other electric bike competitors, this looks like an open market for BMW.”