The electrified future of personal transportation: another hybrid emerges

This entry was posted by on Friday, 25 August, 2017 at

Vehicles powered by internal combustion engines have been around for more than a century. Even though they get the job done, their ill effects on our environments are taking their toll. The alternative, electric vehicles (EVs), have long been unpractical because the power density of batteries just could not compete with that of fossil fuels. Luckily, in 2012 Tesla made what is – in my eyes – the first practical EV.

Since then, EVs have been progressively getting better. Tesla’s P100D takes down any IC car thrown at it on the drag strip, the Nio EP9 obliterates records on the Nürburgring and Renault goes so far as to make an EV microcar, the Twizy.

So it looks as though technology is progressing into cleaner propulsion, good. But so far these vehicles all fail to address one aspect, that another alternative mode of transportation (namely the bicycle) addresses perfectly: synergy with the human physiology. Despite all technological advances, we are still physical beings. We are still ‘bags of meat driven by hormones’, whether we like it or not. And our bodies need exercise to stay healthy and – not unimportant – to release endorphins into our body that give us the great feeling of happiness. Without it, we get depressed.

So EVs address society’s energy and pollution issues, but they do not yet address society’s depression problem. I’m not saying that riding a bike could solve depression, but not getting any exercise at all surely is not helping.

Now, the bike is practical up to distances of up to 20km, especially in urban environments. But there is a solution, and it is again a hybrid (just like Toyota pushed EV into the IC world by combining the two in its Prius): it is an electric car, powered by you: the Raht Racer. It is a bike that has electrical amplification on your muscle power, which allows you to travel up to highway speeds.

I am very curious to see where this evolution will take us; I think an EV that is partially human-powered (where part of the energy needed to drive comes from those two slices of brown bread with cheese you had for breakfast) could be a huge leap forward in commuter traffic. Towards a cleaner, more efficient world with happier people.

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