Netty Eldridge with the Savic plug-in electric motorbike. Picture: David Caird

A 29-YEAR-OLD former Ford Broadmeadows engineer is on the cusp of delivering Victoria’s first production ­vehicle since the closure of Toyota’s Altona plant in 2017.

Dennis Savic is poised to launch Australia’s first high-performance electric motorcycle, designed and built from the ground up in a West Melbourne workshop.

Mr Savic already has 157 orders for his eye-catching C-series cafe racer-style motorbike, and the first 20 will hit the road later this year.

“I’ve been really passionate about motorcycles for a long time. I’ve been really passionate and obsessed with manufacturing for a long time,” he said. “And the timing of the EV market is perfect.”

The company is forging on after a $1.83m capital raising that included contributions from the state government and $657,000 from the federal Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre.

The delivery of the bikes will be the realisation of a childhood dream for Mr Savic.

“I’d actually decided when I was 14 that I wanted to build an automotive business and that’s what led me to study engineering,” he said.

“I was in a metalwork class, the teacher said ‘right, now you can do whatever project you want’. I thought this is awesome, I’ve got ­access to a welder, I can build a motorbike. The teacher laughed at me and said ‘no, you can’t do that’. So then I built a little model of a motor-bike out of frustration as a way to show him that I could.

“And I’ve still got the model on my bedside table.”

Having left Ford, by the end of 2018 Mr Savic had raised enough to launch his first bike. He has since gathered a like-minded team of engineers, mechanics and ­designers.

He describes the look of the bike design as “timeless” or even “retro mod” – a blend of the classic and futuristic.

Buyers have stumped up $2000 for a build slot and pre-order and most have stuck. The first bike off the production line will go to Neil Fewster, a beekeeper-farmer from Western Australia.

“He was one of our earliest investors ... he’s been one of the most supportive and most passionate about the brand.”

Mr Savic knows that a few traditional motorcyclists will not be on board with the new, near-silent technology and radical design.

“But we haven’t had a lot of resistance or backlash or negative press. We have had some proper diehard Harley riders walk past and say ‘oh man, that’s sick’.”

The lithium-ion battery powered bikes come in two models, the Delta, at $19,990, and the Alpha at $26,990 – ­almost half the price of the Harley-Davidson Livewire.

Ross De Rango, head of energy and infrastructure at the Electric Vehicle Council, said he was pleased to see Australian start-ups embrac-ing the transition to EVs.

“Start-ups often move fast- er than large incumbents ... so it’s not at all surprising to see Savic hit the market with a competitive and sharply priced product ahead of some of the mainstream motor- cycle manufacturers,” Mr DeRango said.


CREDITS: Ian Royall