LOWTECH MAGAZINE Electric Velomobiles as Fast and Comfortable …

28 Мар 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи LOWTECH MAGAZINE Electric Velomobiles as Fast and Comfortable … отключены
RENAULT Twizy Cargo

Doubts on progress and technology

Velomobiles: as Fast and Comfortable as but 80 times more Efficient

the velomobile and the electric bicycle the limited range of the cyclist the former optimises aerodynamics and while the latter assists power with an electric fuelled by a battery.

The electric combines both approaches, and so the range of the cyclist — so so that it is able to replace if not all, automobile trips.

electric velomobiles have a and range that is comparable to of electric cars, they are up to 80 more efficient. About a of the existent wind turbines suffice to power as many velomobiles as there are people.

article is also available in and Spanish .

Few people find the useful for distances longer 5 km (3 miles). In the USA, for instance, 85 % of trips involve a trip of than 5 km. Even in the Netherlands, the bicycle-friendly country in the western 77 % of bike trips are less 5 km.

Only 1 % of Dutch bicycle are more than 15 km (9 miles). In the average car trip amounts to km in the USA and 16.5 km in the Netherlands, with the trip to work being km in the USA and 22 km in the Netherlands. (Sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5 .)

It’s that the bicycle is not a viable to the car. Depending on his or her fitness, a reaches cruising speeds of 10 to 25 which means that the trip to work would at least two to four hours, and back. A strong headwind make it even longer, and the cyclist is in a hurry or has to climb he or she would arrive all sweaty.

it rains, the cyclist arrives wet, and when it’s hands and feet would Longer trips on a bicycle affect the body: wrists, shoulders and crotch all suffer, when you choose a faster

An electrically-assisted bicycle solves of these problems, but not all. The motor can be used to reach a faster, or with less but the cyclist remains unprotected the weather. Longer trips still cause discomfort.

the range of most electric (about 25 km or 15.5 miles) is large enough for the average trip to work, which that it will not suffice for all

The Advantages of an Electric assist

The velomobile — a recumbent with aerodynamic bodywork offers a more interesting to the bicycle for longer trips. The protects the driver (and from the weather, while the recumbent seat eases the on the body, making it possible to longer trips without Furthermore, a velomobile (even electric assistance) is much than an electric bicycle.

At speeds below 10 km/h (6 rolling resistance is the biggest for a cyclist. Air resistance becomes influential at higher speeds, and the dominant force at speeds 25 km/h (15.5 mph). is because rolling resistance in proportion to speed, while air increases with the square of

Because a velomobilist has much aerodynamics than a bicyclist the drag coefficient of a velomobilist is up to 30 lower — he or she can attain speeds with the same

If rigged with an electric motor, the weak points of the — its slower acceleration and speed — are eliminated

On the a velomobile is heavier than a which means that it more effort to accelerate and to hills. Acceleration is inversely to the mass of a vehicle, so a velomobile roughly twice as much during acceleration than a depending on the weight of the driver and

If rigged with an electric motor, the weak points of the — its slower acceleration and speed — are eliminated. At the time, a motor accentuates its by further improving on the range of a Last but not least, a battery give a much better in the velomobile, due to its better aerodynamics.

Driving a Ferrari

In August, I drove an electrical velomobile the eWAW. a vehicle that is by Fietser.be — in and around Belgium. Brecht Vandeputte, the force behind the Belgian accompanied me in an unassisted WAW during a one and a hour trip through the and along the tow path of the river

The WAW velomobile (without electrical was originally developed for winning vehicle races. It was adapted for use with the addition of, among things, a leakproof rear open wheel arches make the vehicle more an adjustable seat, and a more body — which of a carbon roll bar and safety surrounded by aramid crumple The WAW is known worldwide, at least velomobilists, as one of the fastest velomobiles on the market — some it the Ferrari of the velomobiles.

The WAW stands out of its weight (it is 28 kg, as opposed to 34 kg, the weight of the popular velomobiles, the Dutch and Alleweder ) and its low centre of gravity (it has a clearance of only 9 cm and a height of 90 cm). Along with a wheelbase, a hard suspension, and steering (it uses two gear instead of one), this in high speeds and excellent even on sharp corners. Of the WAW also has the drawbacks you can expect a real sports car, the very basic interior and the fact that the vehicle like a box of rocks when you it over a cobblestone road.

If road conditions are bad, velomobiles with more suspension will be a better

With 250 watts of power, the motor of the eWAW gives a with an average fitness the power output of an athlete

The that I drove has everything the WAW has, plus an electric of 250 watts and a surprisingly small of 288 Wh, which takes you 60 to 130 km further (37 to 81 The battery and the motor add only 5 kg, the total weight of the vehicle to 33 kg. is comparable to the weight of other without electric assistance.

this pedal powered is more than 10 kg lighter other velomobiles, with a 250 electric assistance, such as the Alleweder and the e-Sunrider, which 45 kg.

Cycling at 50 km/h

So how fast is the and how much faster is the eWAW? of all, the eWAW is a hybrid but the biomass powered motor, known as the driver, is not included in the Because the driver always the main part of the total output, the speed of the vehicle depend on the power that he or she can

There is no better illustration of than my test drive. a period of about an hour and a Brecht and I managed to reach an speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) I was in the eWAW and had the regular assistance of the motor, Brecht was in a WAW without assistance.

Cycling literature a distinction between three of cyclists: people with an fitness level, people a good fitness level, and top Riders with an average can maintain a power output of 100 to 150 over a period of one hour. a WAW, this translates to of 35 to 40 km/h in ideal conditions an unobstructed racetrack, and a completely vehicle.

Drivers with a fitness level can deliver 200 of power over a period of one which translates to speeds of 45 to 50 under the same circumstances.

250 watts of power, the electric of the eWAW gives a person an average fitness level me) the power output of an athlete + 250 watts = 350 watts).

Maximizing Range and Efficiency

I am a freak, so when I found on a nice, open stretch of the first thing I did was start the at full throttle and pedal a madman at the same time. If I have more than 350 at my disposal, I calculated, I must be to reach speeds of at least 70 or 80 (40 to 50 mph). However, my attempt to go any than 50 km/h (30 mph) me frustrated — the vehicle the high gears needed for speeds.

Why? Because the is designed for maximum efficiency. The motor is intended to be used for only (and for climbing

Once the velomobilist reaches a speed of about 40 to 50 km/h, he or she to pedalling alone.

The engineer’s to assist the driver only acceleration is smart; it increases the of both the cyclist and the battery

The eWAW does not increase the speed or top speed of the unassisted although it does increase the speed because it speeds This is a different approach the electric bicycle, where assistance is continuous at normal speeds. With regards to the concept behind the eWAW much sense.

A bicyclist less energy to accelerate a velomobilist does (because of the lighter weight) but more to keep up speed (because of its aerodynamics). In contrast, a velomobilist more energy to accelerate a bicyclist does (because of the heavier weight) but less to keep up speed (because of its aerodynamics).

Because it takes energy to accelerate in an eWAW to drive it at a constant speed, the choice to assist the driver during acceleration is smart; it the range of both the cyclist and the The electric motor supports the during peak efforts, so his or her endurance will increase (Peak efforts have a effect on endurance, while at a steady pace can be done for Meanwhile, the driver offers the service to the battery. Because the motor is shut off at cruising the battery range increases

This said, the driver of the can choose to use the motor at cruising because it can be operated at his or her will by of a throttle. This is how I drove the As a consequence, the battery lasted 60 km (37 miles), but at least I could up with Brecht.

80 times More Efficient Electric Cars

Mounting an engine in a velomobile is controversial velomobilists, just as an electric is skewed by many biking However, when we compare the with the electric car, viewed by many as the future of transportation, it’s a clear In fact, the electric velomobile is what the electric car wants to be, but a sustainable alternative to the automobile combustion engine.

It is nearly to design a personal, motorised and vehicle that is more than the eWAW.

If all 300 million replace their car with an velomobile, they need 25 % of the electricity produced by existing wind turbines

A simple can illustrate this claim. that all 300 million Americans their car with an electric and all drive to work on the same To charge the 288 Wh battery of each of 300 million eWAW’s, we need GWh of electricity.

This is only 25 % of the produced by existing American turbines (on average per day during the July 2011 to June source ). In other words, we make a switch to private operating on 100 % renewable energy, existent energy plants.

Now that all 300 million Americans their cars with an version like the Nissan and all drive to work on the same To charge the 24 kW battery of each of 300 million vehicles, we need Gwh of electricity. This is 20 times than what American turbines produce today . and 80 more than what velomobiles need.

In short: one is realistic, scenario two is not.

if we all started carpooling, and every automobile could carry people, there remains a gap in efficiency. Charging 60 million cars would still 16.6 times more than charging 300 million The electric velomobile also it fairly easy for a driver to his or her own vehicle.

A solar panel of 60 watts (with a surface of less than one square produces enough energy to the battery, even on a dark day.

In Europe, it would an even smaller share of the wind turbines to charge European’s eWAW. For the sake of it should be mentioned that the also requires energy: the needs to eat, and this needs to be produced. But since people eat too much, and then their cars to the gym in order to excess fat, this can be safely ignored.


The large difference in energy between electric velomobiles and cars is remarkable, because have a similar range. As the eWAW takes you a distance of 60 to 130 km, on how intensively you use the motor. The Nissan takes you at best 160 km. when you slowly and steadily, and when you make use of the air-conditioning, heating or gadgets on board.

Adding only 6 kg of batteries the range of the electric velomobile to 450 km

A system is not required in a velomobile, not in winter, because hands and are protected from the wind by the and because the driver is active activity is the most important in maintaining thermal comfort ). The for cooling in summer, on the other will decrease the range the driver will rely on the electric motor in order to down.

Interestingly, it is easier to the range of the electric velomobile of the electric car, if necessary. The can be equipped with one or two extra which increases the range up to 180 km miles, with continuous of the motor) or 450 km (280 miles, the motor is only used to acceleration). Adding two batteries to the increases the weight of the vehicle by 6 kg, and still leaves ample for luggage. If we suppose that the weighs 70 kg, then adding two increases the total weight of the from 103 to 109 kg — a weight of 6 %. If we apply the same trick to the Leaf (where three as many batteries take the of the rear seat and the trunk), weight increases from kg (the driver of 70 kg included) to kg — a weight gain of 30 %.

way to increase the range of an electric is swapping batteries or fast-charging These options are available for electric cars and velomobiles, but a charging infrastructure for electric is a daunting task, while so for electric velomobiles is easy. The of the eWAW not only needs 80 less energy than the of a Nissan Leaf (which fast-charging a real option), it weighs 73 times less makes swapping batteries a low-tech operation).

While we do faster vehicles for long that are equally sustainable trains and trolleybusses ), the velomobile an alternative for those who prefer a means of transportation, or for those who an active lifestyle.

The capacity of our would at least quadruple if we from cars to velomobiles

the battery of an electric velomobile the velomobilist can still pedal — at speeds above of a bicycle. The driver of the electric car do that, because his contraption is too One Nissan Leaf weighs as as 46 eWAW’s.

Most of the energy used by an car (and by a car with combustion is used to move the vehicle not the driver — the Nissan is 21 times heavier than its In the case of the eWAW, this is reversed: the driver weighs two to times more than the

Fast and Smooth Traffic

The makes cycling a fast and option for longer distances. At a speed of 50 km/h (31 mph), the commute in the USA (19.5 km or 12 miles) take 23.4 minutes. compares very favourably the car, for which the average time is 22.8 minutes ). In the Netherlands, where road is heavy, the electric velomobile is faster than a car. The could cover the average of 22 km (13.7 miles) in 26.4 while it takes 28 minutes by car ).

Of course, a cruising speed of 50 does not mean that a can reach an average speed of 50 during the whole trip. If could maintain their cruising speed during the they would be much than velomobiles. In reality, they can’t do that of speed limits, traffic and traffic jams.

Velomobiles suffer similar delays, but is an important difference: because a occupies much less than a car (one car needs as space as four velomobiles), traffic is a much more option for velomobiles. The capacity of our would at least quadruple if we from cars to velomobiles. the cruising speed of a velomobile not exceed most speed

Pimp up your Velomobile

and above this, it is easy to a velomobile with a more motor and higher gears, for much higher cruising It would lose efficiency and but, since an eWAW is 80 more efficient than an car, there is quite a bit of for pimping up a velomobile. We’ll these possibilities, as well as the obstacles for electric velomobiles, in the part of this article .


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