Mission Motors Closes a Round of Funding (And Swears It Won’t Blow It All on Awesome Electric Motorcycles)
San Francisco-based Mission Motors holds a land speed record for an electric motorcycle and, as of this week, also holds a $9.3 million Series B round of funding to commercialize that bike — or at least parts of it.
Sadly, CEO Jit Bhattacharya informed me his company won’t be using the cash to make more of its achingly fast electric motorcycles.
But, even if the bike remains a rarity, the funding is real enough.
The round, led by Warburg Pincus, also includes a hefty line of credit to the company — a provision that makes sense when you realize how capital intensive the real next step will be.
That’s because Mission Motors is moving to become a supplier of electrical drive systems to vehicle makers — “OEMs” in industry speak.
Specifically, it is “looking at [applications] where size and weight are a factor,” said Bhattacharya.
So what does that mean exactly?
An electric drive system, at its most basic, is made up of three components: Batteries to store power, a motor to convert the electricity to physical motion and a speed controller that governs how fast it all happens.
Mission Motors isn’t doing game-changing battery research. Nor is it inventing a fundamentally new kind of motor.
In essence, Mission’s team is not unlike an uber-geeky group of high school car nuts — spending time and money trying to squeeze a little more performance out of a bunch of off-the-shelf parts.
This game of inches gets especially important when you are trying to shoehorn an electric drive system into tiny places.
Bhattacharya mentioned applications like small hybrids, where designers must fit an internal combustion engine, an electric motor and a battery package in the same car.
“If you drop the weight of the components, you basically improve the range,” he said.
So, where will we see a Mission Motors power system next?
Bhattacharya wouldn’t say, although the company has already worked with Honda on prototype cars.
All I could get from the CEO, after much badgering, was, “Our focus is on building compact systems that could go into all kinds of applications.”
In any case, I stopped by Mission Motors’ new office in SOMA to see if I could ride its record-setting, electric pavement monster and at least I got a video: