All three branches of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) have started trials of new electric utility bikes that will be used for tasks such as reconnaissance and surveillance, airfield security and other transport roles.
The NZDF will test four specially built 2×2 bikes from Tauranga-based UBCO. The 65kg 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.
The 12-month trial package includes a camouflage color scheme, extra battery packs, a trailer and a range of spare parts.
The army, navy and air force will each trial the bikes, which in the general market are 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,” says Lieutenant Colonel Brad Gallop. “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 will be limited to 50kmh and have lower training requirements to that of a motorcycle,” Gallop added.
The New Zealand defense forces said the trial was part of the wider goal of becoming a more sustainable operation, which also fits with the government’s goal of having 64,000 EVs on New Zealand roads by the end of next year.