Friday, January 18, 2013

The Hyper-Efficient TWIKE Human-Electric Hybrid Vehicle : TreeHugger

The Hyper-Efficient TWIKE Human-Electric Hybrid Vehicle : TreeHugger

World's Best City Car?

In fact, Möscheid enthuses that the best way to drive a TWIKE is to pedal just below a sweat-inducing speed. In the city, where cars can move barely faster than bicycle speed, the TWIKE finds its element. Driver and passenger arrive at their destination exhilarated but not stinky; range extends to up to 200 km (124 miles) at such lower speeds.Even if your commute currently covers miles of highway, changing to a slower alternative route more optimized for the TWIKE could bring you to your desk filled with the joy of a peaceful cruise away from the rush hour madness.

TWIKE on Tour

© Christine Lepisto Two battery packs worth of Lithium Ion cells.Faster speeds quickly drain the batteries, but that has not stopped TWIKEs on tours. Whether out of desire to prove this new sustainable transportation concept, or purely for the love of travel, TWIKE aficionados have cruised high and low in their three-wheelers. A top speed of 85 km/h (55 mph) enables the TWIKE to take to the highway, although the road less traveled will always be the preferred route. By pedaling, the touring range can be increased from 5 to 20%, the perfect road game for those with a hypermiler inclination.
Möscheid explains how he uses the LEMnet to identify recharge points along his planned route. He looks for a refueling point about every 125 km (75 miles) for a sufficient safety net to ensure the TWIKE does not run out of power in the still sparse landscape of EV-charging opportunities.

Of Fitness and Efficiency

TWIKE lacks a lot of the convenience of the modern car. Sure you get to sit side-by-side with a passenger, and a small amount of cargo can be stowed behind the seats in the battery compartment. Sure you can drive fast enough to take even the famous German autobahn. But when you start to consider that a pretty stripped TWIKE, unpainted but with a full load of 5 Li-Ion battery packs, will lighten your wallet by almost €40,000, you need to get creative with the cost accounting.
© Christine Lepisto
TWIKE floor reinforcement -- an option you don't need.
Of course, you are paying for most of the fuel costs of the vehicle life cycle up front. Almost half the price comes from the Lithium ion battery packs alone. The batteries are expensive, true, but you get what you pay for: the battery quality ensures a long life with consistent performance and stable recharge cycles, guaranteed. The Lithium Ion battery packs can also be augmented as you can afford them, unlike Nickel cadmium battery packs. You could save €10,000 on initial purchase price by starting out with the minimum set of 2 LiIon battery packs.
A user-friendly TWIKE price calculator makes the cost of options transparent.
A true hypermiler could keep the energy use as low as 4kWh per 100 km (62 miles), the lower end of the rated 4 - 8 kWh/100 km which equates to approximately €1-2 per 100 km at the mid-2012 average household cost of electricity in Germany. Over 100,000 km (62,000 miles), savings of over €10,000 euros could be realized (assuming 7L/100km or 34mpg. Of course, gas in Europe costs over $8/gallon, so the benefit of a TWIKE in America would be less.) Add a few pennies to the "entertainment" column of the budget sheet; after all, how much will you save on amusement parks while "flying" your TWIKE through the countryside?
Also, with not too much creativity, you can calculate in a cost benefit for the extra years of health to be enjoyed due to the fitness factor. Driving a TWIKE could also help fight those extra pounds, with a small proviso: in one of many forthright explanations we received at the factory, Möscheid reminds of the discipline needed to avoid snacking during recharging breaks while on tour.

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