Zero Motorcycles wins $17 million in financing

Electric motorcycle maker to expand U.S. production and international sales. It also has the potential to get $9 million more in coming months from lead investor.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
The all-electric Zero DS gets 58 miles on a single charge and is notably quiet by motorcycle standards. Zero Motorcycles

Zero Motorocycles has secured $17 million in financing from a group of investors led by Invus.

The Santa Cruz-based motorcycle manufacturer said today that it closed the financing deal on March 3 and plans to use the funds to increase its production capacity and expand its international sales. In addition to the initial funding, the company said it also has the opportunity for an additional $9 million in the coming months per the terms of the deal.

Zero Motorcycles, which is known for its all-electric drive train on street-legal motorcycles, does its manufacturing at a plant in the U.S., although some parts are imported from international suppliers. The company employees about 70 people.

Its 2011 lineup represented a major overhaul of the Zero's products. Most notably, the company introduced the ability to accept DC (direct current) power from fast-charging stations with the use of a plug-in accessory to fit a standard SAE J1772 plug. Zero also switched from a chain to a belt drive system, which in addition to making maintenance easier has also made the bikes very quiet for a motorcycle.

Two of the motorcycles, the Zero DS and Zero S, also got battery upgrades, making it possible to drive more miles between charges. The 2011 Zero DS has a range of about 58 miles and retails for about $10,495. Its biggest advertisement seems to be that its 2010 version was adopted by a California police department, with several more departments evaluating the new version.