There is a new trend that is rapidly emerging for smarter cities. It is the advent of the e-bike and e-scooters.
Scooters have taken over Santa Monica, caused fury in San Francisco and are spreading to other US cities and likely Britain. Are they fun and environmentally friendly – or a dangerous nuisance?
Electric share scooters have taken over Santa Monica, an affluent beachside city on the edge of Los Angeles, but as they swiftly spread across other cities in California and the US a backlash is already gathering force.
Download an app, scan a scooter’s barcode and away you go, zipping at up to 15mph to your destination. You leave the scooter on the pavement for the next rider.
North America smart bike-sharing operator, CycleHop, has introduced the HOPR electric bicycle. It claims to be the first e-bike for bike-share that includes electric drive capabilities powered by a portable rechargeable battery pack.
The company said the e-bikes will be rolled out this summer in several cities and campuses in the US and Canada.
Lime e-scooters recently made their debut in Canada with the launch of a pilot program in the city of Waterloo, Ontario. Reports confirm the electric-powered scooters are being rolled out for the first time in the Canadian market on a trail route spanning 6.5 kilometres, linking the main campus of University of Waterloo with its adjacent technology park.
Vancouver could be next for dockless bike and scooter shares. Companies such as Spin, Lime and ofo have offered dockless bikes and e-bikes — which users can rent using apps on their phones and are GPS-enabled so they don’t need to be returned to docking stations at the end of a trip — for the past few years. Uber even recently acquired a dockless e-bike company called Jump.
However, dockless electric-scooter shares have exploded in number and popularity since Bird, a firm started by the first COO of ride-hailing company Lyft, launched a program in the U.S. in September 2017. Lime and Spin have joined in and spread thousands of scooters across U.S. cities.
Here are a few of the innovations in e-bikes coming from some of the biggest names in cars and motorcycles. These product line extensions suggest great things to come.
General Motors said it plans to bring two new electric bikes to market next year — one folding and one compact — as the automaker makes a broader push into electrification and other ideas that try to move beyond its traditional business model of producing and selling gas-power vehicles.
The automaker didn’t have a lot of information to share about the e-bikes or its ultimate plans. For instance, Hannah Parish, director of General Motors Urban Mobility Solutions, wouldn’t say if GM plans to launch a bike-sharing service as a result of these two new products. “I can’t say anything is on or off the table at this point,” she added.
Here’s what is on the menu. The bikes will be “smart” and “connected” and somehow inspired by GM’s OnStar, the company’s subscription-based communications, in-vehicle security and emergency services feature found in cars. Parish wouldn’t elaborate what that might look like. We’ll have to wait until next year.
The bikes are also equipped with safety features including rechargeable front and rear LED lights. And the electric propulsion on the bikes were designed by GM engineers who created a proprietary drive system.
Tesla won’t be joining the scooter wars. But electric bikes? Yeah, maybe. But don’t get your hopes up for a Tesla scooter. According to Musk, they lack dignity.
Despite taking a hard hit after the Trump Administration imposed 25% tariffs on imported Chinese e-bikes, the US electric bicycle market has been growing impressively year after year.
Electric bicycles are becoming an increasingly popular form of both recreation and everyday commuting in the US. However, there is almost zero domestic US electric bicycle manufacturing. Even after the Trump Administration’s import tariffs have increased the price of electric bicycles, most US e-bike companies have confirmed they have no plans for moving production to the US.
The cost to develop the necessary tooling, supply chain and skilled labor force would be so high that no current US e-bike company could cover it.
But Tesla could.
The biker gangs of the future could be a lot quieter. Harley-Davidson says it will release five electric vehicles between 2019 and 2022, from a lightweight e-bicycle (pictured below) to a series of electric motorbikes.
The iconic American company confirms its e-bikes will be released in New Zealand. An exact release date is pending, but the Herald was curious how followers of the legendary brand would react to its latest product.
Harley-Davidson has not released tech specs for its LiveWire electric motorcycle (pictured below) but an early prototype managed 0 – 60 miles per hour (95.6 km/h) in four seconds thanks to the lack of gears and instant torque. Its range on one charge was around 100km.
Harley hasn’t released tech specs and pricing for its most basic e-bike yet. Robertson says basic models sell for around $1800, with the sweet spot being around $3500 to $4500. Top-of-the-line models sell for up to $17,000.
On Sunday 4 November 2018 the Ducati World Première in Milan (streamed live worldwide on www.ducati.com starting at 19.00) will unveil, in addition to the latest Ducati models for 2019, the new Ducati e-mtb, the MIG-RR, an enduro born out of close collaboration with Italian company Thok Ebikes.
E-mountain bikes let cyclists take on climbs that, without the motor boost, wouldn’t be possible and, at the same time, they allow everyone to live the off-road on two wheels in total freedom. E-mtbs sales are booming worldwide. Ducati has now entered this market segment relying on the experience of a specialized company, Thok Ebikes, born from the passion of the BMX and Down Hill champion Stefano Migliorini.
The Ducati MIG-RR, which will make its public debut on the Ducati stand at EICMA 2018 (Fiera Milano Rho, 8-11 November), is a true high-end e-mtb developed by Thok Ebikes specialists in close collaboration with Aldo Drudi’s D-Perf and the Ducati Design Center.
UPS is pedaling packages in Seattle. The company’s big brown trucks are getting shrunk down to bicycle size as part of a pilot project that will introduce pedal-assist cargo e-bikes in downtown and the historic Pike Place Market.
The project comes at a time when cities are trying to manage vehicular congestion and search for more sustainable modes of mobility, and are taking steps to increase cycling, or other newer forms of transportation, such as electric scooters.
UPS will use pedal-assist e-bikes coupled with a specially designed trailer, which can hold about 15 to 20 packages. The system is being heralded for its nimble size to reduce congestion and double-parking issues.
E-Bikes are here to stay. Not everyone is happy about that. Fitness and health fans are those people. Why? Because of a nagging, if not irrational, concern that e-bikes somehow diminish the currency of their fitness and hard work as a trainer, coach, and athlete.
For those who have yet to hop aboard an electric motor-assisted bicycle, e-bikes are regular bicycles with a battery-powered “pedal assist.” When you saddle up and push the pedals, a small motor engages and gives you a boost, so you can whiz up hills with a loaded backpack and cruise over challenging terrain without gassing yourself. Most e-bikes come with a power switch that lets you adjust the boost setting from “eco” (low) to “turbo” (high). These e-bikes are technically called “pedalecs,” and they feel just like riding a bike, except you feel bionic because the motor assist lets you achieve a far faster pace with far less fitness and hard work. Is this a compromise for the fitness fans, maybe, maybe not. With the mass adoption of e-bikes in every consumer segment, this last hold-out market segment will likely fall in line eventually.
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Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless and digital communications technologies.
He is a Senior Executive with IBM Canada’s GTS Network Services Group. Over the past 13 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He was previously a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He serves as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has diplomas and certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology.