Back in October, 2021, CAKE and European energy company Vattenfall first publicly announced their intention to build a totally fossil-free electric motorcycle by the year 2025. At the time, the pair of companies acknowledged that greenwashing is a problem with electric vehicles, and that simply creating vehicles that emit zero carbon during operation isn’t enough.
To really get to the heart of the problem, they said, OEMs need to decarbonize the entire production process. If decarbonization is the goal, then that line of thinking absolutely stands to reason—but it’s also a major undertaking. That’s why CAKE and Vattenfall’s first task was to actually calculate what kind of emissions go into crafting just one existing CAKE motorcycle. Since they’ve officially named the project “The Cleanest Dirt Bike Ever,” they chose the CAKE Kalk OR as their test subject.
All told, slightly over 100 individual components go into making each Kalk OR electric dirt bike. To fully calculate the impact of manufacturing and transportation, they had to consider each of these pieces. Where were they made, from what materials, and what was the supply chain that they followed before being assembled as part of this single machine?
After all the calculations were done, CAKE and Vattenfall found that each current CAKE Kalk OR has a carbon weight of 1,186 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2E). That’s 2,614.68 pounds, if you’re curious.
As CAKE CEO Stefan Ytterborn told us in February, 2022, by virtue of simply existing as a person on this planet, you’re never going to reach 100 percent reduction in emissions—but you can get a whole lot closer than humanity has ever been. The Cleanest Dirt Bike Ever project aims to get as close as possible to being completely fossil-free, whether that’s 78-, 87-, 93-, or some other high percentage.
To get there, CAKE is researching and rethinking three main areas: Manufacturing processes, product design, and transportation. A full product redesign isn’t in the works at the moment, but various tweaks and integration of recycled and/or fossil-free materials will likely be involved.
Manufacturing location reconsideration includes proximity to renewable energy sources, as well as making it possible to not have to ship things so far. That, in turn, will help to cut down on transportation-related emissions to get the bikes to customers.
Of course, doing all this research is well and good—but another prong of CAKE’s approach is to inspire other companies (both in motorcycling and beyond) to make similar moves. Obviously, as a company that wants to sell bikes and make money, CAKE of course is interested in promoting a positive image—as are most companies.
According to what Ytterborn said earlier in 2022, though, one of its other major goals is pushing the conversation within the motorcycle industry forward—letting others build off the research that CAKE is doing with this project so that the entire niche can advance and improve.
Ambitious? Yes. Will everything be sunshine and roses the whole time? Absolutely not. However, as CAKE directly states in its official explanation of the Cleanest Dirt Bike Ever project, “we’ll share every single setback, breakthrough, and finding along the way to inspire others.”
Rather than talking around the immense problems our world is currently facing, CAKE also addresses some of the bigger, uglier issues head-on in its values statements about this project. “We will not offset any [carbon] emissions. We will develop a clean bike by solving the root cause, not compensating for it,” the company declares.
It goes on to add that “Nothing is 0. We understand the challenge at hand and know that our aim is ambitious and even impossible. We aim for the moon and go as far as we can reach, without cutting corners like emission offsetting.”
These are admirable goals, to be sure. Just how far will the two companies get? Stay tuned.