Zero Motorcycles unveils new SR/S — a full-fairing 124 mph sport EV

California-based mobility startup Zero Motorcycles has a new e-moto in its lineup — the fully-faired SR/S, unveiled today in New York.

The company’s CEO Sam Paschel pulled the cover off the two-wheeled EV, which is based on the platform of the company’s SR/F, released last year.

The new SR/S has similar stats to the SR/F: a 124 mph top-speed, up to 200 miles of range, 140 ft-lbs of torque and charge-time of 60 minutes to 95%, Paschel told TechCrunch at the debut.

ZERO SR/SZero’s latest EV is an IoT motorcycle and manages overall performance — including engine output and handling characteristics — through digital riding modes.

The major differences on the SR/S over the SR/F are the addition of the full-fairing, a more relaxed riding position (through re-positioning of the bars and pegs) and a 13% improvement in highway range, from improved aerodynamics.

The fairing brings around 20 pounds more weight to to the SR/S over the 485 pound SR/F.

On price, the base version of the SR/S is $19,995 — a dash over the SR/F’s $19,495 — and a premium SR/S (with a higher charging capacity) comes in at $21,995.

The SR/S starts shipping today to Zero’s global dealer network, which stands at 91 in the U.S. and 200 globally — the largest for any e-motorcycle company, according to Paschel.

He positioned the SR/S as more of a sport-touring machine, than the the SR/F, which has a naked-bike set up that includes a more aggressive riding position and less aerodynamics on the highway.

Zero’s latest entries — the SR/F and the SR/S — come at a time when startups are pushing the motorcycle industry toward electric, though its not evident there’s enough demand to buy up all the new models.

 

The American motorcycle market has been stagnant for over a decade and is becoming crowded with EV offerings. New motorcycle sales in the U.S. dropped by roughly 50% since 2008 — with sharp declines in ownership by everyone under 40 — and have never recovered, according to Motorcycle Industry Council stats.

In a bid to revive sales and the interest of younger riders, in 2019 Harley-Davidson became the first of the big gas manufacturers to offer a street-legal e-moto for sale in the U.S. — the LiveWire — which is a forerunner to an HD product-line of electric-powered two-wheelers.

Harley Davidson Livewire static 1

Harley Davidson’s EV debut, the LiveWire

Harley’s entry followed several failed electric motorcycle startups — Alta Motors, Mission Motors and Brammo — and put HD in the market with existing EV ventures, such as Zero.

That list is growing.

High-performance Italian EV company Energica has expanded marketing and sales in the U.S., along with Cake — a Swedish e-moto maker.  This year should also see e-moto debuts by California-based Lightning Motorcycles and Fuell, a French and American-founded company with plans to release the $10,000, 150-mile range Flow.

Zero appears to have created an edge up on Harley’s LiveWire — coming in at $10K less than the $29,799 HD — though its hard to know how they stacked up against each other in 2019 since e-moto sales stats aren’t reliably tallied in the U.S.

Zero doesn’t release their sales numbers (though I tried my darnedest to pry them out of CEO Sam Paschel).

Zero SR/S That price advantage over Harley’s LiveWire will carry over on Zero’s new SR/S, which could find its biggest competitor in the anticipated release of Damon’s Hypersport.

The Vancouver e-moto startup plans to go to market with its 200 mile per hour e-motorcycle debut. The $24,995 Hypersport is targeted toward Tesla owners and brings proprietary digital safety technology and adjustable ergonomics that are absent Zero’s offerings —  and pretty much anything else on the motorcycle market.

Time, burn-rate, and sales will tell which companies can find market-traction and turn a profit across all these new e-moto offerings.

Zero doesn’t diviulge financials but among the startups, they could be furthest along. The company, with $120 million in VC in its rear-mirrors — per Crunchbase — has no plans to raise more, according to Paschel.

“We don’t need it,” he told TechCrunch, adding that the venture’s biggest challenge in 2019 was keeping production up to speed with buyer demand for their SR/F.

Zero is likely hoping for that good kind of a problem with its new SR/S in 2020.

Sling TV reports first-ever subscriber decline

Increased competition from competitors like Hulu and YouTube TV and even Netflix has finally taken its toll on Dish’s live TV streaming service, Sling TV. This week, the company reported its first-ever decline in Sling TV subscribers, with a drop of 94,000 customers in the fourth quarter. In the year-ago Q4, Sling TV had gained 50,000 subscribers, for comparison. The streaming service ended the year with 2.59 million total subscribers, Dish says.

In prior quarters, Sling TV’s gains have helped to offset some of the losses from Dish’s traditional pay-TV business. But in the fourth quarter of 2019, both sides of Dish’s business appear to be in jeopardy. On the pay-TV front, the company lost around 100,000 subscribers, in addition to 94,000 it lost from Sling TV.

By year-end 2019, Dish had 11.99 million total subscribers compared with the 12.32 million it reported at the end of 2018.

Although five-year-old Sling TV was one of the first TV streaming services to hit the market, in the years since it’s battled for cord cutters’ dollars against a growing number of alternatives. In addition to YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV has also had to compete against niche live TV services like Philo and sports-focused fuboTV.

But Sling TV also today faces competition from other streamers, even if they’re not squarely aimed at cord-cutters who want access to live TV. After all, consumers have only so much money in the budget for entertainment — and today, there are so many options for streaming TV besides Netflix. CBS, for example, streams news, TV and sports via its CBS All Access service; premium channels like HBO, Cinemax, Starz, and Showtime offer their own over-the-top subscriptions; Amazon Prime Video is wrapped into Amazon’s expensive annual membership; and now new services from Disney and Apple have also arrived.

In the months ahead, the market will expand even further as new streaming services Peacock (NBCU), HBO Max (WarnerMedia/AT&T), and Quibi prepare to launch.

Sling TV’s drop in subscribers follows a price hike announced in December which raised prices of its two tiers from $25 each to $30, or $45 for both. It also follows a number of programming changes to the Sling TV lineup, the company noted.

In Dish’s 10-K regulatory filing, it explained:

“This decrease in net Sling TV subscriber additions is primarily related to increased competition, including competition from other OTT service providers, and to a higher number of customer disconnects on a larger Sling TV subscriber base, including the impact from Univision, AT&T and Fox RSNs’ removal of certain of their channels from our programming lineup.”

In June and November 2018, Univision removed channels from the Sling TV lineup, some of which were restored with a March 2019 agreement. In October 2018, AT&T removed HBO and Cinemax channels from the Sling TV lineup, which have not been restored. And in July 2019, Fox Regional Sports Networks removed its channels from the Sling TV lineup. The channels have since been acquired by Sinclair.

With programming in a constant state of flux, while subscription prices increase, many consumers don’t see the value in over-the-top television — especially when there’s so much to watch elsewhere and for much less.

In addition, Sling TV’s app isn’t as well-designed as those from rivals like Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV, or as innovative when it comes to the roll out new features or personalization technology. Hulu, for example, customizes recommendations based on viewer behavior and now, explicit signals from new Like and Dislike buttons. Sling TV, meanwhile, didn’t bother with personalized recommendations until last year.

Dish is already diversifying, in light of the bad news ahead for pay-TV. As a part of its deal with T-Mobile and Sprint ahead of their merger, Dish is acquiring Sprint’s prepaid business, including Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, plus all of Sprint’s 800 MHz spectrum. Dish will utilize T-Mobile and Sprint’s cell sites to run its own wireless business for seven years, while it builds its own 5G network, the agreement said. The company may also look for strategic partners as it grows its wireless business, the company noted on the earnings call today.