The New Zealand Defence Force is exploring greener transport as it trials electric utility bikes supplied by a local company.
CAPTION: The New Zealand Defence Force has begun trialling electric utility bikes at Waiouru to determine their suitability for military use. NZDF photo.
NZDF will test four specially built 2×2 bikes from Tauranga-based UBCO for their suitability for tasks such as reconnaissance and surveillance, airfield security and other transport roles.
Weighing 65kg, the bikes are much lighter than normal military motorcycles, have an electric motor in each wheel and, with regenerative braking, can travel up to 120km on a single charge.
A 12-month trial package includes a camouflage colour scheme, extra battery packs, a trailer and a range of spare parts.
Lieutenant Colonel Brad Gallop said Navy, Army and Air Force would each trial the bikes, which, in the general market, were aimed at farmers, hunters, emergency services and others.
“Obviously they are more environmentally friendly, and we will see if they are also more military friendly,” Lieutenant Colonel Gallop said.
“We will see how good they are for carrying equipment where a soldier on foot might not be able to.
“Electric vehicles offer some advantages over normally fuelled vehicles.
“They are quiet, don’t give off exhaust or heat, and aren’t powered by highly flammable liquids.
“They are simple to maintain, and onboard computers will record a range of information about how the bike is used.
“They will be limited to 50km/h and have lower training requirements to that of a motorcycle.”
The trial is part of the Defence Force’s wider goal of becoming a more sustainable operation, which also fits with the New Zealand government’s goal of having 64,000 EVs on New Zealand roads by the end of next year.