View Full Version : Alta Shutters

Ted Dillard
18 October 2018, 0313
From Asphalt and Rubber: https://www.asphaltandrubber.com/news/alta-motors-ceases-operations/?fbclid=IwAR0YEYZ1Yip2LfqRhm7C8EeaPc8xkTiUt8u29dVq 6vC3uSjK2MzD5TbKT2Q

18 October 2018, 0632
Well, that is sad but seems to be typical of an electric motorcycle startup company. The all seem to start up with a good design plan and a hopeful business plan that just can't be supported by sales alone without large and steady infusions of cash until the electric motorcycle market starts growing. And the way things are going, that might take a long time. Just take a look at the brands specifically listed in the sub-forums on this site. How many of those brands are still in existence? They couldn't even find a Chinese company to buy them. :rolleyes: I hope Alta (located about 15 miles from my home) can recover, but finding loose cash is getting tough in today's economy. :(

In other distantly-related news, my oldest granddaughter is attending the Freie University in Berlin for the next year. She takes public transportation as well as walks to her classes from her off-campus dorm. While walking to class earlier this week, she took the attached photo of a Zero rider at a stoplight. What are the odds of that happening just as she was walking by? Fortunately she was able to recognize what looks like a 2014 Zero S as her mother has one exactly like that. It even with the same Givi top box. I bring this up as I believe that the real electric motorcycle market lies in the European Union and not in the Americas for at least the next ten years - in spite of all of our politicians proclaiming otherwise.

I might add that when I purchased my Zero, California gave me a $900 rebate for buying an EV. Now starting next year, the state will be charging me an additional $100 a year for registering my Zero, along with the standard, original-price-based registration fee ($230 this year), just because there are so many perceived rich people owning Teslas who the politicians feel are not paying their fair share to pay for road maintenance by not having to pay gas taxes. And my electric motorcycle got scooped up in the rush to extract money from "rich" EV owners. :mad: That is doing nothing to grow the EV market and especially not the electric motorcycle market which is already suffering under the burden of high purchase prices. :(

18 October 2018, 1014
I contend that its ALL because of battery tech... we just aren't there yet!
I know the world's brightest minds are working on this, and I truly believe the next gen battery will kick gasoline's ass.

It also seems like HD was just extracting what they could at Alta's cost.

18 October 2018, 1425
The thing that I wonder about the next-gen battery is will we be able to afford it? Or will all of those batteries end up in expensive EV cars and trucks?

Something else to consider is the cost of building a new battery factory. Tesla and many established lithium battery manufacturers have a lot invested in the existing technology. What will it take for them to toss that investment and infrastructure out the door and start building newly designed batteries? They are really going to have to be great for that to happen and will be priced accordingly.

Ted Dillard
19 October 2018, 0238
I've read two books - Bottled Lightning (https://amzn.to/2NNy7Io), and Powerhouse (https://amzn.to/2CqEejY) - about battery development, and I don't share your optimism about a "next-gen battery" being developed any time soon. Sorry. I certainly think you're going to see the existing technology refined, but as for a breakthrough? Nope. I'd encourage you to read them, they're quite interesting and informative, and not particularly dry. They're also very much in line with my whole focus on emerging technology and how technology revolutions happen.

Second, I hate to disagree with you again, StevO, (well, no I don't :D) but there's a hell of a lot more than the batteries that resulted in where Alta is right now. They had an enormous ramp-up, with the associated burn rate. Remember, they were originally BRD, and did a huge amount of marketing - 4 or 5 years' worth - before they actually had a product to sell. They have a great product that everybody was excited about, with some great solutions to the battery issue. https://www.altamotors.co/technology#the-alta-pack They were talent-poached by Harley Davidson, as we saw in another thread. Besides that, they haven't closed. As the article says, they've shut down operations to shut off the burn while they try to find investors. I don't think that's too unusual after a tiny company is slammed by a huge giant company that wants to rape, pillage and plunder, and leave them in the dust. I'm pretty optimistic that you haven't heard the last of them by a long shot. A quick patent search shows they have some cash in the IP bank as well: https://patents.google.com/?assignee=Faster+Faster+Inc.

I attribute a lot of what went on there as a result of the Silicon Valley startup culture. Look at Zero, Brammo and the others - they didn't hit the market with a fully evolved product, they did the "successive approximation to a goal" development. BRD/Alta seemed to want to burst on the scene with a fully-formed product, and seemed to have the funding to approach it that way. The, well, spirit of the investment required for an approach like that is totally consistent with the Silicon Valley culture. (I can back that up, but that's another book, pretty much.) The short version is you can have backers that want to see results - the Zero CEO talked about how his board and shareholders want to see profits, period - and then you have backers that want to be involved in something game-changing, revolutionary, disruptive technology, and are willing to sit on it for a while without seeing return... but even they have an end to their rope. To put it another way, a friend who lives in that world said to me, there are plenty of people with huge amounts of money out there, you just have to have an idea that's unique, that nobody else is doing, and will make them feel like they're pushing the cutting edge where nobody else is. I believe BRD/Alta had that, and they finally pulled the plug.

Remember, also, what's happening in the political spheres as well*. In the book I went into the economy of 2008-2009 and other world events, and their impact on the emerging EV technology. Regardless of your political leanings, it's fair to say we're in fairly unpredictable times right now, and it's totally credible that investors are pulling out and staying away from speculative ventures and looking for safer havens.

The deeper you look, and the harder I looked at the 2002-2012 time period, the more the point that nothing happens in a vacuum, and nothing is a simple result of one cause gets driven home.

*I sincerely DON'T want this to devolve into a political discussion. ElMoto is one of the only havens I have to read stuff that has nothing to do with what's happening in Washington, and I'd dearly appreciate it staying that way. Please and thank you.

19 October 2018, 1039
First off Ted, Thanks for disagreeing with me, and please continue to do so! I appreciate multiple viewpoints.
Second, I like the optimism very much!!:cool:
I am saddened by their shutting... they were designing everything right, and race testing their product.
Third, forgive me for being too optimistic sometimes!!

I did see the book Bottled Lightning, but I haven't bought it yet.
I agree to keep politics away. I dislike most politicians, blue and red.

I wonder if we'll see the Alta folks on the Shark Tank!

Ted Dillard
19 October 2018, 1054
The only episodes I've seen of Shark Tank, they were only concerned with potential profitability, not the nature of the tech at all, so yeah, no, I don't think you're gonna see that.

19 October 2018, 1056
The only episodes I've seen of Shark Tank, they were only concerned with potential profitability, not the nature of the tech at all, so yeah, no, I don't think you're gonna see that.
ya... doesn't that sum up 99% of investors?

Ted Dillard
19 October 2018, 1123
Based on what I've been told, not really in the Silicon Valley culture, as I explained above. I don't know the percentage, but there's a lot more tolerance and interest in emerging, developing tech.

20 October 2018, 1116
I've seen Mark Cuban invest in a Si Valley startup on the Shark Tank... it was a unique leaning electric vehicle https://allsharktankproducts.com/shark-tank-products-auto/sway-motorsports-three-wheeled-electric-vehicles/

Seems to me that Alta would be a much better investment.

24 October 2018, 0606
It looks like this financing issue is a problem for more than just Alta. According to an article in Motorcycle Consumer News (page 9, November issue), the 10-year old American motorcycle builder Motus has had to cease their operations after the company's financial backers pulled out.

And speaking of the November issue of Motorcycle Consumer News, they have a full road test of a 2018 Zero DSR in that issue, although the article does contain some inaccuracies - as is typical when most monthly motorcycle publications review electric motorcycles. :rolleyes:

Michael Moore
24 October 2018, 1355
the article does contain some inaccuracies - as is typical when most monthly motorcycle publications review ------- motorcycles.

I fixed that for you. :)

I've dropped all my subscriptions (I used to regularly subscribe to 10-20 magazines) except to Road Racing World because they have the best data panels in tests. When journalists (some of them with the title "technical editor") with over 40 years of experience put clearly wrong stuff (that when called on about the error admit they do know the right information) into articles with what appears to be a "our readers don't know the difference, it doesn't matter" attitude, there's not much reason for me to give them my money.

That comment "our readers don't know the difference, it doesn't matter" is an actual response I received from a writer when I questioned him about an error in an article.


27 October 2018, 1527
Here are a few more words regarding Alta shutting down production. It sure sounds like H-D greased their skids:

Ted Dillard
28 October 2018, 0945
There's no new information in that story other than they posted "Thank You" on their Facebook page.