The company behind the Arc Vector electric motorcycle has run into financial trouble. Arc Vehicle Ltd entered administration on September 4, with administrators Leonard Curtis appointed to take charge of the business.
The news comes just a couple of months after Arc raised nearly £1 million and unveiled plans for a huge new manufacturing facility in St Athan, Wales with Vector production set to commence next year.
The Arc Vector story
"The company has gone into administration because a couple of investors have let us down – they’ve promised us funds that have just never materialised," Mark Truman, CEO of Arc Vehicle told MCN.
"There’s absolutely nothing wrong with what the team have done on the project." In July Arc completed an equity crowd funding campaign on investment website Crowdcube, raising more than £950,000.
"The Crowdcube funding round was successful and we had more than 1000 investors pledging over £1 million, but we didn’t take the money in the end," says Truman. "I didn’t want to take the money off ordinary people in the motorcycle community and find ourselves in the same boat in eight weeks."
The potential demise of Arc’s Vector is a blow for the electric bike market because its creators appeared to have solved many of the problems that beset alternative fuel vehicles – crucially power and weight.
The claimed weight for the Vector is just 220kg, thanks to its innovative carbon fibre monocoque chassis, and Arc also claimed that the latest battery tech gave it a range of 362 miles, with a recharge time of just 45 minutes.
Performance is claimed to be 133bhp with 292ftlb of torque. Not only that, but Arc had planned for the Vector to be one of the most technologically advanced motorcycles available, with haptic feedback offering an involving experience and a matching head-up-display-equipped helmet.
The firm being in administration does not necessarily mean the end of the project. "We have until October 10 to raise funds. We’re still here, still working and trying our best, but if we don’t manage to raise the money, then the administrators will begin the process of selling the business.
"We need an investor who is passionate about motorcycling and what we’re doing here," says Truman. If you think that's you then you can contact Mark here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Explained: Arc's new hub-centre front end
First reported 12 July, 2019
The Arc Vector electric motorbike is a technical pioneer in many ways with its large capacity batteries, fast recharge time, and heads-up display but it’s also something of a suspension innovator, too.
Up front the Vector has hub-centre steering. Arc aren’t the first to do this – Jack Defazio pushed it heavily in the 1970s, Bimota had a crack with the Tesi and, of course, there was Yamaha’s GTS1000 – but as all those attest, it’s never taken off. That’s because those systems had flaws and, you guessed it, Arc reckon they’ve solved them.
"In my early career I did a lot of work on ‘funny front ends’," says Mark Truman, Arc CEO. "I realised there was real potential – hub-centre racers have always delivered good results – but that it needed more development."
Pivot point is key
The key, Truman says, is the placement of the front swingarm pivot point. On a standard hub-centre set up, the pivot point of the swingarm is above the axle. That means as the brakes are applied the force acts to lift the bike up, which compared to a lifetime of riding bikes with telescopic forks can feel weird.
It also affects handling.On a standard bike when you apply the brakes the front-end dives, reducing the steering head angle, shortening the wheelbase and shifting weight onto the front tyre – helping the bike corner. On a typical hub-centre motorcycle this doesn’t happen, which can cause them to run wide.
But on the Arc, the swingarm pivot point is below the wheel centre, which means when the brakes are applied the front-end dives just like a conventional fork. It still retains some advantages – it requires more energy to make the front-end dive, so the Vector can run a much softer spring and less compression damping without running the risk of bottoming-out the suspension. They can also run a much steeper head angle without encountering the stiction conventional forks would suffer from at those angles.
Are there any downsides?
Arc’s innovation doesn’t end there either. Unlike usual hub-centre systems, with a complicated set-up of rods and rose joints that robs the rider of steering feel, the Vector retains a direct steering attachment.
"The front fender is actually structural carbon fibre," adds Truman. "It acts as the uprights for the wheel, so when you turn the bars you’re steering through the mudguard."
And are there any downsides to this set up? Well, you guessed it – cost. The front suspension on the Arc was expensive to design, is expensive to produce and is a good part of the reason why the finished bike will set you back a rather significant £90,000.
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Arc open crowdfunding scheme
First reported May 28, 2019
Start-up British electric motorcycle manufacturer, Arc, have opened their crowdfunding programme today in a drive to secure the funding required to build "the world's most advanced electric motorcycle".
Investors are invited to contribute to the project on Crowdcube.
Mark Truman, CEO of Arc says: "What an incredible few weeks it’s been. We had intended for Crowdcube to go live earlier in the month, but we were delayed due to the finalisation of terms with new cornerstone investors. Since we first announced the Crowdcube initiative, we have been overwhelmed with positive interest and pre-registration expressions exceeding 2,000. This is all about joining the Arc family, so whether you’re a motorbike aficionado, seasoned investor, technology or environment enthusiast, we’re inviting people to join our mission to become an established global leader in electric, recreational and luxury mobility. This unique investment opportunity is now open to the British public."
Arc motorcycles: the story so far
Unlike some crowdfunders where you effectively just buy something in advance, the Arc scheme is a proper investment. That means if you do put your cash in, you’ll own a slice of a British motorcycle company.
Obviously if you only invest a small amount then you’ll own a teeny amount of the company, no Gordon Gecko hostile takeovers here, but in return for your support at such an early stage Arc are offering a few perks.
The perks range from the smallest investment of £500, which bags you a VIP tour of the manufacturing facility and your name inscribed on the wall, all the way up to a £500,000 investment, which gets you a custom made Arc Vector.
Now, we’re not financial experts and Arc are a young company, but how many opportunities do you get to invest in a British motorcycle manufacturer? If you’re interested head to the Arc website where there’s more info plus all the legal investor information.
The investment is part of a much larger round of fundraising, which includes the multi-year deal struck with principle backers Jaguar Land Rover.
"The motorcycle community has played a huge part in my life growing up and in who I am today and I’ve always wanted to give something back to it," Arc founder Mark Truman told MCN.
"Inspired by the likes of Barcelona football club which is owned by the fans, it felt right to me to open Arc up to this community, giving them a chance to invest in what we’re doing and our vision to improve and protect the joys of riding a motorcycle."
The radical electric motorcycle company have also confirmed a host of other new plans for the business, including a brand new production facility opposite Aston Martin in Wales, as well as revealing the latest steps towards getting its finished Vector bike on the road.
Since the Vector was first unveiled in November, Arc have been hard at work refining the design and testing the bike on the track. This has resulted in a decision to use a larger motor, which not only guarantees the performance required but also improves the bike’s dynamics.
Arc say they’ve gone through numerous revisions that have removed excess material, lowered the centre of gravity and reduce overall mass. With much of the testing now complete, the final parameters for the carbon swingarms are now being set allowing Arc to begin production tooling.
Arc have also announced that they are to open a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing centre in Wales. The 65,000 sqft St Athan facility will begin production in 2020 and will host not only bike production but also a club house, a test track and a helicopter landing pad, naturally.
Arc Vector key facts
- Motor: 399-volt electric
- Performance: 133bhp / 292ftlb
- Weight: 220kg (kerb)
- 362 mile range
- Price: £90,000
Eicma 2018: Arc unveil the Vector
British company Arc unveiled their all-new electric bike at Eicma 2018. All the ride info comes through a heads-up display in the helmet, which also acts as the ignition key. Riding feedback comes through electronics in your jacket, which plays music through your body.
The Arc Vector will redefine the electric class. It weighs just 220kg and develops 133bhp and 292ftlb of torque. That means it goes from 0-60 in 3.1 seconds; the same as the 2019 BMW S1000RR.
Tested to the European standard test, the Arc has a 362 miles of urban range. Better yet, use a fast charger and you’re fully powered-up in just 45 minutes.
Arc’s founder, Mark Truman, was previously the head of Jaguar’s White Space (an out-of-the-box ideas division). There he made the first concept for an electric bike, which has become the Vector.
The engineer assembled a top team, including a MotoGP chief engineer, and FEA analysis specialists, to push the idea through to development stage and ultimately production. The project has been running for two years within this Whitespace department, with Arc Vehicle Ltd being established 18 months ago.
Re-shaping the electric bike landscape
Where the Arc Vector differs from other electric bikes we’ve seen is, well in pretty much everything. The whole thing is a monocoque with the battery, motor and all the internals housed in a carbon 'tub' that allows the front and rear suspension to be directly attached.
This not only allows it to be very stiff, it's also very light. Arc haven’t released any figures yet but they’re saying the Vector is 25% lighter than the nearest competition. Thanks to exclusive battery tech it has a claimed 30% more capacity.
"The cells we have are still prototypes," says Truman. "There is no other electric bike that will have the sort of cells we have."
A Human Machine Interface
Each Vector will be custom made and will come with a helmet and jacket that form part of the system. Although the bike has to have a speedo and some idiot lights, the bulk of the info is displayed in an HUD in the helmet.
Arc have also designed a haptic jacket which has a range of abilities from pumping through your favourite music to giving you a tap on the shoulder if there’s a car approaching from behind.
The world's most premium electric motorcycle
Truman went on to say: "Technology, performance, safety and experience come together like never before on two wheels.
"The Vector is more than just the world's most premium electric motorcycle; it’s the world’s first motorcycle with integrated multisensory HMI (Human Machine Interface), it’s an innovative heads-up display helmet and it’s a tactile riding suit – all making up the most involving motorcycle experience on the market today."
A banana swing-arm
Meanwhile, perhaps surprisingly considering the front-end, the swingarm appears to be a far more conventional banana-shaped twin spar, also damped by a fully adjustable Öhlins monoshock.
The wheels look exceptionally familiar, too – appearing to be either BST carbon fibre five-spokes, or clones of them. The rear brake caliper appears to be a twin-piston unit acting on a single disc, while the meaty front anchors look like 330mm discs being gripped by small 4-piston calipers (probably Brembo’s new Stylema calipers), unconventionally attached at the 6 o’clock position.
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