Electric Bicycles - The Wave of the Future? Part 2Dale Campbell, Bent Fork Chronicles Co-Editor
Within that commentary, I closed the discussion by stating "How long will we have to wait for these power assist bikes to become affordable? The technology is there today. And the market demand is anticipated to continue growing. So, maybe the opportunity to purchase and enjoy an e-bike isn't so far away. Only time will tell."
Well, that time may be approaching faster than some of us have anticipated... now that the Ford Motor Company has possibly entered into the competition. On 19 September, Ford made an announcement in Frankfurt Germany about a concept E-Bike. The primary focus of the exercise was apparently to demonstrate the translation of Ford's race and production technology into the concept for an electric commuter vehicle. The resulting demonstration "vehicle" has a potential range of 85 km.
The drive system, as noted in the Ford announcement, consists " of a motor in the front wheel hub, a lithium-ion battery concealed in the frame and an integrated controller and patented magnetostriction sensor technology from the world of Formula One," all cutting edge technology. But, keep in mind that this is still a bicycle. So Ford decided to use top-of-the-line off-the-shelf bicycle components for the construction of the concept vehicle. This includes a Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal gear hub and a 2012 Shimano Rapidfire shifter. However, in place of the traditional chain, the Ford design engineers decided to employ a Carbon Belt Drive System, making for a cleaner and lighter design, as well as enabling a more immediate transfer of energy.
Ford recognized the potential market that could be addressed in the development of affordable E-Bikes. Axel Wilke, director, vehicle personalisation, Ford Customer Service Division Europe noted that "The E-Bike market is growing very, very rapidly, with some 30 million units sold globally last year." Additionally Wilke indicated "we believe the Ford E-Bike Concept would be the perfect addition to the e mobility solutions we will offer."
So, if Ford is now investigating the potential to enter the E-Bike market, can some of the other traditional 4 wheel vehicle manufacturers be next? Again, time will tell. For now, however, to see more about the Ford E-Bike concept, look at http://media.fordvehicles.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=35270