Singapore’s net-zero future beckons. All internal combustion engines are expected to be phased out by 2040. Scenario calculations using the UN Environment eMob calculator also show that if 90 per cent of the world’s motorcycles were to switch to electric, we could reduce carbon dioxide emissions of about 11 billion tons between now and 2050.

According to James Chan, founder and CEO of Ion Mobility, “Motorbikes emit up to 16 times more hydrocarbons, three times more carbon monoxide and a disproportionately high amount of air pollutants compared to passenger cars.” He shared these horrifying stats in December 2021, during the reveal of the Ion Mobius, his company’s first electric motorcycle.

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Ion Mobility, which Chan started in late 2019, is a tech-driven company that aims to create affordable, desirable and sustainable mobility solutions. Chan, who has experience in public service, venture capital and entrepreneurship, is backed by a multidisciplinary team of designers, engineers, and production and supply chain specialists with expertise in fintech, robotics and the automotive industry.

Ion Mobius is a battery-powered two-wheeler that was designed, manufactured and assembled in Singapore over 18 months. The powertrain, battery, and vehicle control systems are state-of-the-art. In addition to its 12.5kW power and 50Nm torque, it can reach a top speed of up to 110km/h and 50km/h in under 4 seconds. Charging takes three hours via a household outlet.

James Chan

The motorcycle can be directly connected to the Internet over LTE, or paired with a mobile device via Bluetooth using the Ion app. With the latter, you can customise settings, review ride data, assess riding style, and even locate the bike. As described by the team, Ion Mobius embodies “both sleekness and strength, while keeping it nimble and zippy, making it perfect for urban commutes.”

The Ion Mobius might take some time to arrive in Singapore, however. According to data from the Land Transport Authority last August, there are only five electric motorcycles registered in Singapore. When asked, Chan was coy about when it will be available here.

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Instead, Chan has set his sights on other parts of South-east Asia, and is particularly drawn to Indonesia. Ion Mobility has a production facility in Ayer Rajah Crescent, as well as another larger one planned for Greater Jakarta that will produce 1,500 motorcycles every month. Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines are next.

As Chan points out: “With over 200 million motorbikes across South-east Asia—112 million in Indonesia, 50 million in Vietnam, 22 million in Thailand and 14 million in Malaysia—our region is home to the third-largest motorbike population in the world.”

Electric alternatives to the ubiquitous petrol-powered motorcycle will accelerate the shift towards sustainability in the region. To encourage those who “face significant barriers in switching to an electric motorbike equivalent in power, range and reliability to combustion motorbikes”, there will be a leasing option for the Ion Mobius in Indonesia, says Chan.

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He aims to sell more than just electric motorcycles that can save the world. In establishing Ion Mobility as an innovative automotive company with full-stack capabilities, from design to engineering to after-sales, he hopes to place Singapore—a country with no prior automotive talent or electric vehicle industry—on the global tech map.

Instead of succumbing to “people who tell me we’re crazy to lead this effort out of Singapore”, he focusses on the bigger picture—literally.

“By joining hands across Singapore, Jakarta, Shenzhen and future offices throughout South-east Asia to leverage expertise and supply chains, we’re taking steps to build an integrated and single ASEAN economic community that unites through collaboration, by focusing on synergies rather than differences.”