Best Buy Backs Electric Motorcycle Maker

This morning, I asked PE Week Wire readers to name the latest electric vehicle company to raise its first round of funding. My only hint was “don’t think cars.”

A few folks got it right, so now let’s share: The company is Brammo, an Ashland, Ore.-based developer of an electric motorcycle called the Enertia (no, I didn’t spell it wrong). The lightweight bike gets 45 miles per charge, comes with GPS and is Internet-enabled. The cost is about $15k if you want the first batch of bikes, or just $12k if you can wait until later. Overall, the company has around 100k people who have expressed interest via Brammo’s website.

The company so far has raised $10 million, from firms like Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital and Best Buy Capital. That latter name is obviously of particular interest, since it seems to indicate that Enertia bikes may eventually be for sale at the big box store — perhaps parked right next to those Geek Squad buggies.

Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher declined to discuss that possibility with me, instead explaining the Best Buy investment this way: “We see our product as being on a continuum between consumer electronics and vehicles, but moving toward consumer electronics… Having Best Buy’s expertise in terms of consumer electronics marketing and distribution is invaluable.”

A Best Buy spokeswoman added: “”Best Buy has a history of exploring new products that might appeal to its customers and help to grow its business. To that end, we occasionally make investments in new technologies.”

The $10 million figure is obviously a lot less than other electric vehicle makers have raised (e.g., Tesla), but Bramscher says the company has intentionally tried to stay “capital frugal.” He adds that the current funding will take Brammo into production and delivery of its full product line, and that the next VC round would happen sometime next year.

According to a regulatory filing, the company may expand its Series A round up to $15 million.