German makes electric bike-car hybrid
Berlin, Feb 9 : A 36-year old German engineer-businessman wants to reduce toxic emissions from road transportation by fusing together different elements of cars and bicycles. The man has made a prototype hybrid vehicle that seats two people and reaches a top speed of 45 km per hour.
Nicolas Meyer says hybrid vehicles should weigh less than 100 kg and be made out of natural fibers so as to be more environmentally friendly.
He has already made a mountain bike using bamboo sticks and other light construction material. "That is my hobby," he says.
By 2014, he will present the prototype of his hybrid vehicle, which is just like his mountain bike.
The unit seats two people and reaches a top speed of 45 km per hour. It has two 20-inch wheels in the front and two 26-inch wheels in the back.
It has a hand brake, and is powered either by human force using the pedal crank or by the battery, which can last up to roughly 50 km.
According to the German Federal Environment Agency, emissions from car traffic between 1999 and 2006 has decreased by about 12 percent.
Nevertheless, at 19 percent, road traffic is still responsible for a substantial portion of the total carbon emissions in Germany, said Fritz Brickwedde, a top official of the German federal environmental foundation DBU.
The DBU is supporting the product development of the electric bike-car with 54,500 euros.
Brickwedde said the organization has given financial backing to the project because it reduces pollution.
And considering that two million electric bicycles -- or pedal bicycles assisted by electric motors -- have already sold out, he sees a market for the bike-car.
Meyer, a University of Osnabruck graduate, estimates that the total product development would cost around 120,000 euros.
The engineer estimates the cost for the basic hybrid vehicle at just under 9,000 euros.
In order to drive on the roads, it only requires an inexpensive moped licence plate without the need for a license.
The components are also durable.
"Repairs can be made in any bicycle shop, as the structural components are bicycle in nature," Meyer said.
The two-seater is designed to be charged at any outlet. The maintenance costs are slight, he said.
Meyer said the main advantage of his bike-car is that it builds on the experience of pedal-assisted electric bikes.
He did admit, however, that there were a few drawbacks to improve upon, such as insufficient protection from cold and rain, as well as a lack of carrying space.
Meyer plans to present a prototype of his vehicle in about a year.