Electric bikes and scooters strategy would be the easiest and fastest path to electrifying transportation. Electric bikes and scooters use 10 to 100 times less material and less batteries. China can make 50 million each year now versus about 500,000 electric cars. It would be relatively straight forward for cities to adopt legislation that would favor electric bikes. All roads or almost all roads/lanes could be designated toll roads and regular cars would need to have EZ passes to operate on roads (perhaps variable tolls with easier restrictions on carpoolers etc…). Electric bikes and scooters would be enabled to have free access on the road and would be especially favored during commuter hours. The e-bikes can go from $150-3000 and could be heavily subsidized or given away free and people can keep their regular cars. The e-bikes could be foldable to easily go onto buses and trains.
Manufacturers of e-bikes have been making the vehicles bigger and faster to enhance competitiveness. Industry officials had been advising the government to raise weight standards to 48 kilograms from 40 kilograms, Yu Shiguang, secretary general of the Shanghai Bicycle Industry Association, said in 2008.
China’s Standardization Administration said this month that e-bikes cannot go more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) per hour and must weigh no more than 40 kilograms (88 pounds). Electric motorbikes, or scooters, should travel at between 20 kph and 50 kph and can be more than 40 kilograms in weight, the agency said in a Dec. 6 statement.
The new rules, proposed by the country’s Standardization Administration (SAC), were set to take effect at the start of 2010, but have been put on hold following opposition from the industry and electric bike riders. According to widespread reports in the country’s media, nearly 120 million electric bikes were set to be banned from public roads from 1 January if their owners did not get a motorcycle license for them.
Also controversial was a proposal to set a minimum size limit on electric bike manufacturers: only companies with US$29 million of investment would survive, or less than one percent.
Legal moves in other countries are liberalising the position of electric bikes. For example, earlier in the year the Canadian province of Alberta legalised e-bikes for street use, providing they do not have assisted speeds higher than 32 km/h (nearly 20mph) or an electric motor producing in excess of 750 watts.
According to the China Bicycle Association, a record 40 million bikes were sold in 1998. That number has now halved, and the models being sold today are more likely to be specialist road and mountain bikes than basic urban runabouts.
Some 20 million e-bikes are expected to be sold in the People’s Republic in 2009 – the same number as in 2007 and 2008, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Sales of motor vehicles have also shot up in recent years but, with a predicted 12 million new cars hitting the road in 2009, still lag far behind e-bikes
KLD Energy Technologies’ high-performance electric motor system brings a new level of speed and responsiveness to the road – breaking with the past to create a motor designed to react and accelerate faster.
Easily achieves speeds of 50 to 55 miles per hour – nearly twice that of traditional, electric motor scooters which average 25 to 30 miles per hour.
Generates twice as much torque as the average electric scooter and can achieve 0 to 50 miles per hour in less than ten seconds.
Has a lower-cost of maintenance because the system is transmissionless and does not require the associated fluids.
Achieves 40 to 50 miles per two KW hours of electricity at about 10 to 20 cents, in comparison to traditional scooters which average 40 to 50 miles a gallon at (worldwide) $4/per gallon.
Today’s electric three-wheel vehicles are striving to deliver drivers a unique, high-performance experience, while being environmentally friendly. Leading designers seek to develop road-ready vehicles that can reach and maintain speeds comparable to gas-powered automobiles. While the industry continues to advance, traditional electric motors often fall below designers’ leading-edge objectives for performance.
KLD Energy Technologies’ motor system has broken the traditional engine paradigm by leveraging an advanced composite material with specially designed motor controls to produce a high-performance electric motor.
Pre-sales for three wheelers with KLD motor systems will begin in 2010.
MIT Big Wheel
The new wheel, developed by researchers at MIT, can store energy every time the rider puts on the brakes, and then give that power back to provide a boost when going uphill or to add a burst of speed in traffic. But there are also a variety of extra functions hidden within the hub of this new wheel, which is designed to be easily interchangeable with any standard bicycle’s rear wheel.
Ratti says the team expects to have the wheel in production by the end of next year. The retail price has not yet been determined. Though the prototypes cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each because of all the research involved, their analysis shows that a regular production model can be “competitive with existing electric bicycles,” he says.
By using a series of sensors and a Bluetooth connection to the user’s iPhone, which can be mounted on the handlebars, the wheel can monitor the bicycle’s speed, direction and distance traveled, as well as picking up data on pollution in the air, and even the proximity of the rider’s friends. The resulting data can both help the individual rider — for example, by providing feedback on fitness goals — and help the city (if the user opts to share the information) by building up a database of air quality, popular biking routes or areas of traffic congestion.
All of the generating, power assisting, sensing and communications equipment fits inside a plastic housing in the hub of the wheel, connected to the standard rim by a novel system of spokes. Dubbed the Copenhagen Wheel, it was developed by Carlo Ratti, associate professor of the practice in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) and director of the SENSEable City Laboratory, and his team.
The whole generating and power-assisting system can be controlled through the pedals, requiring no switches or dials. Pedal backwards, and the regenerative braking is engaged, helping to recharge the system’s batteries; pedal fast, and you get the extra boost of power. “Everything is controlled by your feet,” Ratti explains.
In addition, “The wheel, thanks to the energy it harvests, becomes something that helps you keep track of your fitness,” he says, by recording the mileage that you travel. That information could also be shared, for example, with employers, who might get credits for the avoided pollution for employees who commute by bike. It also contains sensors that can monitor levels of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, temperature, humidity and noise, and a GPS that can track position.
Today the total world market for electric bicycles is more than 24 million pieces. That makes electric bikes #4 in the world line up of vehicles: Bicycles are about 130 million per year, cars and light trucks about 65 million per year, light motorcycles about 65 million per year.
The markets look something like this:
China: 21-22 million
EU: Nearly one million in 2009
India: Probably near the EU in 2009.
Japan: About 300K
USA: About 200K
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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