With pedal-assisted electric drive, regenerative braking, a lightweight fiberglass shell, and a tablet computer as the control panel, the Human Electric Vehicle integrates elements of both EVs and bicycles into a high-tech hybrid vehicle.
This project vehicle, which began in late 2010, is a great illustration of the ability to fuse design and ingenuity into a working prototype of a lightweight personal electric vehicle.
From the first 3D rendering to the finished vehicle, the designer, Lyon Smith, stayed true to the initial design constraints, and came up with a hybrid vehicle that is not only fast and stylish, but that has enough of a range to make it a viable personal transportation option for commuting (or just for fun).
"The concept of this project was to design and build a vehicle, which is a hybrid between a bicycle, a motorcycle, a car, and a dynamo. Pedal power creates electricity through the design, by pedalling and charging the batteries with magnetic generators and a gear reducer, which turbo charges the speed at which the generators spin. I was asked to come up with designs on how this vehicle was to look, perform, and function. The main constraints were weight, size, the requirement that this was to be a three wheel vehicle." - Lyon Smith
Smith's partner Rich Kronfeld, a bicycle enthusiast, wanted to come up with a vehicle that combined an electric drive with pedal power, and with an initial grant from the Minnesota Dept of Commerce and the help of a canoe company, an engineering firm, a boiler company, and the engineering department at Winona State University, the two have created a unique three-wheeled hybrid.
"It’s a hybrid car, motorcycle, kayak bike. It could be a revolutionary vehicle. I think we created something really interesting here.” - Smith
The Human Electric Vehicle, which is street-legal, weighs in at about 700 pounds, and is technically a motorcycle. The outer shell of carbon fiber is laid over a foam structural core (with similarities to building both a kayak and an airplane), and serves to cover the custom-built chassis, which holds the pedal-power components and battery system, as well as the suspension and electric motor in the rear hub. The vehicle is said to have a top speed of about 100 MPH, with a range of 75 miles (or farther, depending on the amount of pedal-assist from the driver). It includes a small solar panel on its roof, and a regenerative braking system to recapture some of the energy while driving.
According to Inhabitat, the prototype was displayed at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum this spring, and the team is working on another iteration of the design for possible launch in June, with the hopes of attracting investors to bring a production model to market.
Stay up with news on further development of the Human Electric Vehicle on their Facebook Page.