"It's almost a magic-carpet-like ride"

Sales of high-performance e-motorcycles will rise at least 30% per year through 2023 in North America, says a May report by Navigant Research, a market research firm. Co-author John Gartner sees several reasons: consumers looking for refuge from high gasoline prices, increases in city traffic and improved e-vehicles.

“It has its limitations. It only goes so far” on a charge, says Ron Paci, a retired carpenter in Arlington, Va., who has owned an electric Zero Motorcycle for a year. Still, he’s a huge fan. “it doesn’t pollute. It doesn’t make any noise so if you want to drive quietly along a country road, it’s a new experience.”

Zero, the largest U.S. manufacturer of e-motorcycles, has boosted production from fewer than 100 units in 2010 to more than 2,000 this year, says Scott Harden, the company’s vice president of marketing. Compared to gas-powered counterparts, he says Zeros are cheaper to operate — about a penny per mile — and don’t make noise, fumes or vibrations.

“It’s almost a magic-carpet-like ride,” Harden says, noting Zeros can go 171 miles per charge in the city.