Why electric bikes, you ask? If for no other reason, then because of their sheer growth. Smart notes that in its home market of Germany alone, the market for e-bikes rose nearly threefold from 70,000 in 2007 to 200,000 units in 2010. Across Europe as a whole, the market has shot up from 200,000 in 2007 to 500,000 in 2009 and 700,000 in 2010. Those are some compelling numbers, so little wonder Daimler is getting on board.
Created in collaboration with electric bicycle specialists Grace, the Smart e-bike packs a 250-watt electric motor juiced by a 400 Wh lithium-ion battery that can provide a selectable level of boost to the rider's pedaling. Disc brakes front and rear do the stopping power, recharging the battery from the regenerative braking system. The battery can provide up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) of cruising depending on how much power is dialed in, and can even charge a mobile phone through the integrated USB socket.
The smallest Smart yet will be launched in Europe and North America early next year, after being unveiled at the Eurobike show in Friedrichshafen and the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. In the meantime you can scope it out in the high-res image gallery and the press release after the jump.
Stuttgart. The smart ebike is going into series production. With this step smart as a pioneer of local emission-free electric mobility is expanding its e-product portfolio. A near-series version of the smart ebike will be on display at the "Eurobike" show in Friedrichshafen (31 August - 3 September 2011) and at the Frankfurt Motor Show (13 - 25 September 2011). The smart ebike is being developed and built in cooperation with the renowned e-bike manufacturer GRACE, based near Berlin. The ebike will be launched in the first half of 2012 and will initially be marketed by dealers in Europe (including the UK) and North America.
smart CEO Dr. Annette Winkler says "The smart ebike is a true smart – but on two wheels. It is an extremely well designed bicycle that is sure to draw admiring glances in the city – it's also really practical and easy to ride. Anyone can zip through town on it with or without exerting themselves – depending on their fitness level and as their mood takes them. And it's even easier to find a parking space than with the smart fortwo."
Power-assisted mobility on two wheels is in. According to the association of the two-wheeler industry (ZIV) sales figures in Germany alone rose from 70,000 in 2007 to 200,000 in 2010. In 2018 the ZIV predicts that e-bikes will make up 15 percent of all bicycle sales in Germany.
Sales are also booming across Europe as a whole. In 2007 approximately 200,000 people opted for an electric bicycle and according to the ZIV by 2009 this figure had already risen to 500,000. In 2010 around 700,000 e-bikes were sold throughout Europe – up 40 percent compared with the previous year.
With an unconventional design in line with the style of the brand, functions appropriate for city use and high technology standards that are demonstrated by the extremely efficient and high-performance drive package among other features, the smart ebike has an exceptional position.
Annette Winkler says "We at smart have been gathering experience of electric drives and the mobility needs of city dwellers around the world for years. The smart ebike is the logical product of this experience and compliments the smart fortwo extremely well. We listened to what people wanted from the perfect city bike and then came up with some clever solutions such as the integrated USB port for smartphones and energy recuperation during braking."
The smart ebike is a really high-tech product and will arrive in the UK in 2012. Pricing is still to be confirmed.
Distinctive design with the characteristic smart signature
The smart ebike created by the smart designers boasts a clear design idiom and an independent appearance. It clearly breaks with conventional bicycle design with attractive integration of the components of the electric drive. The main components such as the frame, battery housing, handlebars, lights or mudguards have been designed and developed specifically for smart.
The two-material and two-colour concept is also typically smart. The plastic battery housing forms a striking contrast to the aluminium frame of the smart ebike and the dynamic look is rounded off by 26 inch wheels, the headlamp and rear light which features LED technology.
Efficient and powerful electric drive
smart's high technological standards are highlighted in the extremely efficient and high-performance drive package. As a pedelec (Pedal Electric Cycle) the smart ebike is strictly speaking a hybrid vehicle: the electric motor – a maintenance-free and brushless rear-wheel hub motor from BionX – switches on as soon as the rider starts pedalling as with a normal bicycle. Muscle power is transmitted to the rear wheel via a durable and quiet belt drive. An integrated three-speed gear hub provides for comfortable gear changing.
The strengths of the ebike include its agile performance: the rider of the smart ebike decides how much power he wants the 250 watt electric motor to deliver to support his muscle power by pressing a button on the handlebar. There is a choice of four power levels with the fourth and highest level providing maximum pushing power.
Depending on the power level selected and the manner of cycling a battery charge can last for more than 62 miles. With more than 400 Wh the lithium-ion battery is one of the most powerful batteries in the competitive environment. It has been attractively integrated on the smart ebike and is housed on the lower bar in the frame triangle under a plastic housing. The portable battery can be charged either at a normal socket or whilst riding with the latter offering advantages in terms of cost and the environment. The wheel hub motor becomes as a generator when the rider brakes. The braking energy is recuperated and converted into electrical energy and stored in the smart ebike's lithium-ion battery.
High-quality components guarantee dynamic, safe and fun cycling. For example, MT4 disc brakes from Magura are fitted at the front and rear. The fully integrated brakes interrupt the power supply to the motor during braking, stop its propulsion power and reverse the polarity so that it becomes a generator for recuperation of braking energy.
The smart ebike also features state-of-the-art infotainment: a USB interface is a standard feature and enables various mobile end devices to be connected with the help of a versatile cradle. There are even plans to develop a special app for the iPhone which would allow smart ebike riders to use their iPhone as an information centre, for example to call up information on the charging status and range.
Simple operation and highly functional
Straightforward operation, a low weight, excellent ergonomics and a practical stowage space concept all contribute to making the smart ebike fun to ride. As a pedelec the smart ebike combines the comfort of a motorised two-wheeler with the easy handling of a bicycle. In EU countries neither a driving licence nor a licence plate are required as the electric motor of a pedelec only assists propulsion up to a speed of 15 mph. This is also a clear advantage in terms of safety.
Charge management is just as simple: the battery can either be charged right on the ebike or it can be easily removed for charging at an indoor socket and then reinserted.
Thanks to different variants for the handlebars and seatpost the smart ebike can be adjusted to fit riders of different heights – a simple and efficient solution that is typically smart. A rear rack and further stowage options will be offered, for example, trendy and highly functional bags in the smart design tailored to the rack system are currently being developed.
Expert partner from the two-wheeler industry
smart is developing and producing the new smart ebike in close cooperation with the e-bike manufacturer GRACE based near Berlin. Three years ago marketing specialist Michael Hecken and mountain bike legend Karl-Heinz Nicolai got together to produce particularly innovative and high quality e-bikes. The smart ebike is therefore "Made in Germany" and will be produced in premium quality.