We've shown you the Schaeffler Bio Hybrid before – it's somewhere between a bike and a car, a four-wheeled pedal assist vehicle. Currently it's a prototype, and there's lots of work to do both in working out its legal status and refining the actual enginieering. But it's a working prototype, as you can see from the video below.
Fully Charged is an electric vehicle show on Youtube hosted by actor Robert Llewellyn, and mostly it concerns itself with electric cars. The Bio Hybrid is an intriguing middle ground between cars and bikes, and Schaeffler lent Llewelyn the prototype for a test ride.
In terms of the actual drive technology the Bio Hybrid uses a fairly standard mid motor e-bike transmission, albeit a high-end one with Nuvinci's Harmony automatic-shifting transmission. The batteries sit below the rider and can be removed for charging; this isn't a vehicle you're going to be able to keep in the hall. The Bio Hybrid uses four 24-inch stub axle wheels with disc brakes, and has independent suspension for a smooth ride. The roof can be folded down behind the seat when it's not required. The Bio Hybrid has smartphone connectivity and is designed with an integrated smartphone holder on the bars so you can use that as your display.
“The ways in which people get from A to B in metropolitan areas will change. There’s a clear trend toward new, compact mobility solutions", says Dr. Heinrich Schäperkötter, Director of Innovation Strategy, Innovation Management and Collaborative Research at Schaeffler. "They offer major opportunities for small vehicles that can close the gap between electric cars and bicycles. Schaeffler is involved in actively shaping this trend and in the process of investigating future requirements, possible fields of application, as well as concepts and solutions for personal mobility today. We’re talking about micromobility.”
Is this the future of urban mobility? Well, it's certainly a direction that's being explored, with this Schaeffler concept and the Sinclair-C5-esque CabrioVelo both sitting in between a traditional bike and a traditional car. The main problem in cities is congestion, and that's not going to be addressed at all by simply changing from petrol and diesel to electricity. Transport needs to be made more efficient and compact, and in that respect vehicles like this are a step in the right direction.