Smart’s line of super-tiny, fuel efficient vehicles have gone from head-turning oddities to a ubiquitous part of urban commuting. Now, with the help of Daimler, the company is entering into the world of electric bicycles.
Smart (the company is marketed with a lower case “s”, as in smart), recently announced that they will begin selling their new electric bicycle, the smartbike, in North America and Europe in early 2012.
The ebike, which was designed in collaboration with Grace Bicycles, is assisted by a 250 watt electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery that can provide four different levels of boost to aid the rider’s pedaling. The engine is activated as soon as the rider begins to pedal. Pedaling creates storable energy and the smart’s rider decides how much power he or she wants the electric motor to deliver to support their muscle power by pressing a button on the handlebar. Braking can also charge the battery due to recuperated energy that is converted into electrical energy and stored in the ebike’s battery.
The bike also features a “maintenance free” rear hub and a modern, mountain-bike like design that’s both comfortable and affords an efficient riding posture.
Smart claims that the bike can easily cruise at 15 MPH. A single charge will carry the bike over 60 miles, well within the range of most commutes. The ebike includes a USB interface and there are plans for an iPhone app that would let riders check on the charging status and range. So far, smart has yet to announce a price for the ebike.