Did you know the Nissan Rogue is responsible for funding the development of a cutting edge electric motorcycle? Even more interesting is why. You see, the name "Rogue" was initially intended for a V12 super car with 850 HP.
I recently interviewed Craig Bramscher, the CEO of Brammo, Inc about his new electric motorcycle — the Brammo Enertia — going on sale at select Best Buy outlets later this month. He told me he only ended up building that bike after giving up his dream of building a world-beating V12 supercar and selling its name, the "Rogue," to Nissan for its new compact CUV.
"It was a tough decision because you know we're in the Rogue Valley," says Craig. "So it was like our Ferrari Modena. Brammo Rogue."
The Brammo Rogue GT was supposed to be equipped with an 850 HP, 738 Lb-Ft 10-liter V12 weighing just 2,900 Lbs. There was even talk of a supercharged version with 1,600 HP and close to 1,000 Lb-Ft of torque. Performance for both would have been off the chart, with top speeds estimated to be in excess of 225 MPH.
"We were scared to death about the timing of a 3 MPG supercar," Craig reluctantly admits. At the time, Brammo had the license to build Ariel Atoms in the US and went so far as to develop an all-electric version of that car.
"We've designed it, we've engineered it, we're ready to go," says Craig of the electric Atom. "And since we had already converted the car from Honda to GM for the North American market we didn't think there'd be a problem with the guy in the UK who designed it and he actually decided that he wanted a whole bunch more money for the electric version because we were apparently going to get rich off of it, which just wasn't the case."
Suddenly the company found itself without a market-ready product after shelling out to develop a bespoke super car, a federalized Atom and the electric version of that car. That's when Nissan came calling.
Bramscher doesn't regret selling the name, "No matter how much we loved it, I mean it's my pet project, it's my passion, we've sold the name of the car to Nissan, the Rogue, so it changed a little bit. But that funded the company for a while; it was a great. I'm not supposed to talk about the number."
Nissan won't talk about the number either, only saying, "Rogue was designed to provide more sporty styling and dynamic performance than other products in the segment. As a result, we wanted to go with a name that would help it to stand out in that crowd while encompassing its more athletic nature."
Finding itself with a fresh injection of cash, it was time for Brammo to reevaluate its future. A mass-production electric motorcycle seemed like the ideal niche to capitalize on, offering lower development costs than a Tesla Roadster competitor and the potential to more greatly influence the transportation landscape through much higher sales.
"The super car project is still sitting there, it's kinda hidden off in a corner," hints Craig. "If we were to build it as an electric one it would be a different car now that we know everything we know about electric. But it taught us so much about building some really high quality stuff, about tooling, about how to build a beautiful body in a mass production way and I think the Enertia is a much better bike because of our crazy heritage." If the Enertia is a success, maybe we'll see Brammo produce a supercar yet. All we know for sure is that it won't be called "Rogue."
To read more, check out my Craig Bramscher interview on Hell For Leather.