Bicycles Replacing Cars - The Future Of E-Mobility
Bonn, Germany (SPX) Oct 05, 2010
According to estimates by the German Federal Government, even though today there are few mass-produced electric cars on the market, there will be a million electric cars on German roads by 2020. Despite numerous pilot projects using electric cars, high expectations are being curbed because of high purchase costs, short ranges and a lack of infrastructure for charging stations.
On the other hand, sales of two-wheeled electric vehicles such as scooters and bicycles are breaking all records. So is the electric bicycle replacing the car in terms of e-mobility?
The boom in electric scooters, electric bicycles and pedelecs is particularly obvious in cities, where congestion is heavy. There are already thousands of electrically driven two-wheelers on the streets of major Chinese cities.
Manufacturers in Germany estimate that 200,000 electrically driven bicycles will be sold in 2010 - a trend that is growing quickly. Across Europe, sales of electric bicycles are estimated at around 600,000 per year.
Boom in electric bicycles
Electronic bicycles (e-bicycles) are faster, being capable of reaching speeds of 45 kilometres per hour, although besides needing moped insurance they also require a lightweight helmet to be worn. Some manufacturers have already secured approval for even faster e-bicycles, with a motor output in excess of 500 watts. In the future, all-weather models should also address concerns about getting soaked in a rain shower.
Besides tourism operators, the primary interest in electric bicycles in urban areas is among commuters. E-bicycles use motors that are mounted on either the front or rear wheel hub or directly on the bottom bracket and have an ample range of 30 to 70 kilometres.
The battery, which is usually based on modern, rechargeable lithium-ion technology, is easy to remove and can be recharged from a wall socket in around four hours. As is the case for non-motorised cyclists, traffic queues and a shortage of parking spaces pose no problem for riders of electric bicycles. Prices of the order of 2500 Euros are high, but not as off-putting as the minimum projected 20,000 Euros for a small electric car.
More cycle lanes in major cities
Every car replaced means less exhaust fumes and less noise, fewer traffic jams and less need for parking spaces in inner city areas - thus improving the quality of life.
Of course the environmental friendliness of electric bicycles stands and falls with the available power mix, but this limitation applies equally to electric cars. On the other hand, electric bicycles are not moving any unnecessary mass and consume substantially less power. To help increase the usage of electric bicycles even more, usage models based on the example of car sharing are also planned.
Also, as with a mobile phone contract, e-cyclists might in future be able to acquire a subsidised bicycle with the obligation of purchasing all its power from a specified provider. Electric mobility is becoming a reality, albeit in a slightly different manner than originally expected.
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Athens (AFP) Oct 2, 2010
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