Student engineers developing electric motorcycle and company to market it

NIU sophomore Chad Wilson isn’t waiting until he graduates to take on the business world. Wilson and his business partner, Jordan Horwitz, are developing an electric cruiser motorcycle prototype they hope will eventually become a product on the market.

 

“This is the ultimate way to be a part of a tech startup,” Wilson said. “It’s a huge challenge, but I absolutely love it.”

Wilson is studying industrial and systems engineering in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. Horwitz is a sophomore at the College of Lake County who plans to transfer to NIU next fall to study manufacturing engineering technology.

“We’re hoping once he transfers here and we can gather our resources together in one place, we can make a big push to finish the prototype and take it to trade shows and investors,” Wilson said.

In October, the pair won the CleanTech Award and Student Award at the EIGERlab FastPitch Competition. More than 30 entrepreneurs and innovators from four states pitched their ideas in the competition at the Rockford-based business incubator.

“We didn’t know how serious we were about this until we took it to competition and did well,” Wilson said.

The motorcycle project was born from Horwitz’s passion for electric vehicles. Right now, his preferred mode of transportation is a bicycle he equipped with an efficient electric motor so it can travel more than 30 miles per hour with no pedaling.

“I have two cars and don’t use either of them. I do all my commuting on the electric bike,” Horwitz said. “I’ve put 17,191 miles on it over the past two years. I drove from Vernon Hills to DeKalb to Sycamore without stopping to charge, and it took me two hours and nine minutes.”

Horwitz is using the data he collects from his bicycle motor to help him develop a 200-horsepower motorcycle that will be able to travel between 150 and 300 miles on a single charge. The planned motorcycle will bear a stronger resemblance to a Harley-Davidson than to a dirt bike, Wilson said.

“There are a lot of sporty dirt-bike style electric motorcycles out there,” he said. “We want to build a higher-end cruiser model that has improved safety, a larger body and is more comfortable to drive.”

While Horwitz’s passion is for the machine, Wilson’s is for the business startup, which the pair has dubbed Electric Vehicle Technologies.

“Jordan really loves the bikes and the engineering process. I’m really passionate about entrepreneurship,” Wilson said. “We’re very ambitious, and we want to see something come of this.”

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