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Will This Bike-Car Hybrid Change the Future of Urban Transportation?

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A German manufacturing company has developed a bicycle/car/moped hybrid that could change how people travel around cities.

Photo credit: Schaeffler

Schaeffler, a major manufacturer of parts for the automotive and aerospace industries, created the Schaeffler Bio-Hybrid—a vehicle small enough to fit in the bike lane, but that has motor assist and is easily parked. The company plans to build 30-40 Bio-Hybrids for user feedback tests to be conducted in a city in southern German in 2017.

Patrick Seidel, innovation manager at Shaeffler, called the Bio-Hybrid a "solution for future urban transport."

At 2 meters (6.5 feet) long, 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall and 80 centimeters (31 inches) wide, the bike combines pedal-power and electric motors to move. It is easily maneuvered, only weighing 80 kilograms (176 pounds), and is emissions-free, The Guardian reported. Seidel said the weight of the bike might be reduced as the model is improved.

"It may be a little over-engineered at the moment, but we want to prove the concept," Seidel told The Guardian.

Photo credit: Schaeffler

The Bio-Hybrid's two batteries are located under the seat, easily accessible and light weight enough to be carried inside for charging. Three to 4 hours are required for full charge, but those batteries then power the bike for a range of 50 to 100 kilometers (31 to 62 miles).

Electric-assisted rides are available up to 15 mph, according to Schaeffler. The Guardian's Damian Carrington describes how it feels to drive the Bio-Hybrid:

You just start pedalling. The battery-powered assist kicks in automatically and off you go at a pleasant clip. Pedal faster and the automatic and continuous gears slide upwards to get you up to 15mph, when the assist ends. The racing-style steering wheel (handlebars?) turns the Bio-Hybrid smoothly and the hand lever-operated disc brakes bring you to a smart stop.

Drivers can vary the level of assist they receive while driving the Bio-Hybrid. A setting of zero gives the biker complete control over the speed of the vehicle, if desired, or they can set the assist at maximum for an easy, laid-back ride. There is also a reverse setting, Carrington said, to help with parking and turning.

Electric assist isn't the only customizable portion of the Bio-Hybrid, the seat and steering wheel, The Guardian said, are adjustable as well.

The bike's roof can be removed and stored behind the seat to create a convertible feel and look. Schaeffler's Bio-Hybrid also comes with a coat hook behind the seat and a luggage rack on the back.

Photo credit: Schaeffler

There are a few problems that might have to be fixed, depending on local laws, if the Bio-Hybrid enters the market, such as the lights and mirrors. Carrington wrote:

The integrated lights at the front and back give the Bio-Hybrid a groovy look, but night riders would need to attach more lumens to be safely seen. There are also integrated orange indicators lights, though these would mean the vehicle becomes a car in German law.

"New concepts do not always fit into the legal environment of the moment," Seidel said.

Carrington said the visibility over the driver's shoulders is fine.

Seidel expects the Schaeffler Bio-Hybrid to be pitched with a cost between 2,500 euros (almost $2,800) or even above 7,000 euros ($7,800), which is equivalent to the price of low-end electrical cars.

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