Berlin: A 36-year
old German engineer-businessman wants to reduce toxic emissions
from road transportation by fusing together different elements of
cars and bicycles. The man has made a prototype hybrid vehicle
that seats two people and reaches a top speed of 45 km per hour.
Nicolas Meyer says hybrid vehicles should weigh less than 100 kg
and be made out of natural fibers so as to be more environmentally
He has already made a mountain bike using bamboo sticks and other
light construction material. "That is my hobby," he says.
By 2014, he will present the prototype of his hybrid vehicle,
which is just like his mountain bike.
The unit seats two people and reaches a top speed of 45 km per
hour. It has two 20-inch wheels in the front and two 26-inch
wheels in the back.
It has a hand brake, and is powered either by human force using
the pedal crank or by the battery, which can last up to roughly 50
According to the German Federal Environment Agency, emissions from
car traffic between 1999 and 2006 has decreased by about 12
Nevertheless, at 19 percent, road traffic is still responsible for
a substantial portion of the total carbon emissions in Germany,
said Fritz Brickwedde, a top official of the German federal
environmental foundation DBU.
The DBU is supporting the product development of the electric
bike-car with 54,500 euros.
Brickwedde said the organization has given financial backing to
the project because it reduces pollution.
And considering that two million electric bicycles -- or pedal
bicycles assisted by electric motors -- have already sold out, he
sees a market for the bike-car.
Meyer, a University of Osnabrück graduate, estimates that the
total product development would cost around 120,000 euros.
The engineer estimates the cost for the basic hybrid vehicle at
just under 9,000 euros.
In order to drive on the roads, it only requires an inexpensive
moped licence plate without the need for a license.
The components are also durable.
"Repairs can be made in any bicycle shop, as the structural
components are bicycle in nature," Meyer said.
The two-seater is designed to be charged at any outlet. The
maintenance costs are slight, he said.
Meyer said the main advantage of his bike-car is that it builds on
the experience of pedal-assisted electric bikes.
He did admit, however, that there were a few drawbacks to improve
upon, such as insufficient protection from cold and rain, as well
as a lack of carrying space.
Meyer plans to present a prototype of his vehicle in about a year.