Every time I write about the coming electrification of transportation, somebody will comment that electric cars are still heavy, dangerous, resource-intensive and, well, they are still cars.
And cars are problematic.
Personally, I tend to think that every journey starts somewhere. A plug-in electric minivan is a gigantic improvement on a regular minivan (or a regular Prius for that matter!). But as we continue to phase out the internal combustion engine, we also need to tackle the fact that individual car ownership is expensive and inefficient. With large-scale car sharing and autonomous vehicles coming ever closer, however, there's good reason to believe we can solve that problem too.
If we can indeed extract personal (big) car ownership out of the equation for many people living in cities and towns, then it sure would be useful to have smaller, super-efficient vehicles available that can carry your shopping and provide a little protection from the elements. Organic Transit's solar/pedal-powered ELF is one such example, and I can attest it is an awesome ride. (Disclosure: Founder Rob Cotter is a friend.) Another, similar concept (yes, it is currently a concept) is Schaeffler's pedal-electric biohybrid.
Robert Llewellyn recently took it for a spin, and perhaps the biggest takeaway from his review was how much fun these things are to ride. (Fun is a much overlooked factor in our transportation system. And we could do with more of it!) Also worth noting is the fact that you can remove the roof on this thing—which I can see as a major benefit when the weather is nice.
We wrote about the biohybrid when Damian Carrington of The Guardian reviewed it a while back, and there's not an awful lot new to reveal here. Still, it's worth watching Robert's review in full. For one thing: it helps me imagine a city where a lot more cars are replaced with vehicles like this. And that future makes me smile.
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