Sunday, December 11, 2011

Toyota, Yamaha unveil connected electric trike, e-bike

With populations in urban centers expected to surge over the next few decades, auto manufacturers are looking beyond cars to find ways to mobilize the population without using more fossil fuels. Toyota teamed up with Yamaha to show off a couple of electric bicycle concepts at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. They're not the first companies to tackle e-bikes, but they could be the first companies to show how these non-traditional EVs can be connected to smart grids.

The three-wheeled EC-Miu and the electrically power-assisted Pas With bicycle are designed to work with the Toyota Smart Center, an advanced smart grid energy-management system designed for homes, businesses, and power companies, which means your e-bike will be another appliance you can manage online.

Commuters will be able to recharge these e-bikes using the same G-Station charging stations used by electric vehicles. Embedded Wi-Fi capability will give riders a way to use smartphone-based navigation and telematics services.

The manufacturers went one step further and modeled how electric bicycles could be integrated in city-wide bike-sharing programs, creating a mashup of Daimler's electric Car2Go program in San Diego and Paris' Velib project. By giving commuters a way to get from A to B without breaking a sweat, these electric bike concepts could make it easier to opt for two or three wheels instead of four, which would help ease congestion on city streets. However, they'll still have the problem of creating helmet hair.

No information on range, speed, or charging times were given in the news statement, but for comparison, the Smart eBike has a range of about 62 miles and a top speed of about 15 mph.


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