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L.A. Auto Show: Smart continues to think small with Ebike concept

November 19, 2010 | 11:58 am

SmartebikeThe German manufacturer of the Smart Fortwo is going electric, not only with a new electric drive version of its ultra-compact car but a two-wheeler.

Its concept Smart Ebike, on display at the L.A. Auto Show, further demonstrates the company's ideology of urban transportation with a light footprint.

Like many production electric bicycles already on the market, the Smart Ebike is propelled with a 250-watt brushless DC motor in the rear wheel hub and a 36-volt lithium-ion battery pack hidden in its aluminum frame. Unlike heavier production e-bikes, it weighs just 48 pounds, has an appealing modern style and intelligently integrates handheld technology.

Designed in collaboration with the Berlin-based electric-bicycle manufacturer Grace, Smart's Ebike works in conjunction with a smartphone. A dock in the center of the handlebars holds the phone, which not only activates the electric drive system but also functions as the bicycle's speedometer and GPS system. Removing the phone automatically locks the drivetrain, preventing the bike from being wheeled away by thieves.

The Smart Ebike is operated with a "muscle power/electric hybrid drive." In other words, the electric motor kicks in whenever the rider pedals. The Smart Ebike can travel between 18 and 56 miles on a single charge, depending on what level of power assist has been selected with a button on the handlebar. That range can be extended through regenerative braking, which feeds energy back into the battery when the brakes are activated.

The Smart Ebike's motor has a top speed of 15 miles per hour; riders can, however, move faster by pedaling harder.

The bike fully recharges in two to three hours using a household outlet.

Smart hasn't said whether this concept will become a reality.

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Smart Ebike. Credit: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times

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