In very small vehicles, the power demand decreases, so human power can be employed to make a significant improvement in battery life. Two such commercially made vehicles are the Sinclair C5 and the TWIKE.
The Sinclair C5 was a battery electric vehicle invented by Sir Clive Sinclair and launched in the United Kingdom on 10 January 1985. It was a battery-assisted tricycle steered by handles on each side of the driver’s seat. Powered operation was possible making it unnecessary for the driver to pedal. Its top speed of 15 miles per hour (24 km/h), was the fastest allowed in the UK without a driving licence. It sold for £399 plus £29 for delivery. It became an object of popular ridicule and was a commercial disaster, selling only around 12,000 units.
The TWIKE (”TW”in b”IKE”) is a human-electric hybrid vehicle (HEHV)/light electric vehicle (LEV) designed to carry two passengers and cargo. It can be driven in electric-only mode or electric + pedal power mode.
Pedaling extends the range of the vehicle but does not substantially add to the vehicle’s top speed. The vehicle cannot be driven solely by using pedal power. Regenerative antilock braking captures energy from deceleration to recharge computer-controlled batteries.
Constructed of lightweight materials (like aluminium and plastic), this 246 kg (542 lb) (unladen) tricycle vehicle uses a 336 volt, 3.3 kilowatt-hour nickel-cadmium battery or a 6 kilowatt-hour nickel metal hydride battery and 3 kilowatt electric motor for primary power to the drivetrain. The battery can be fully recharged from a common 230V house outlet in 1.5 to 2 hours (NiMH: 3 hours). Additional energy is reclaimed while driving through regenerative braking, and load is removed from the electric system by use of the pedalling system which transfers its input directly to the drivetrain (ie, both systems operate in parallel, not in series).
TWIKE owners, who often refer to themselves as TWIKE pilots, host periodic gatherings and tours in Europe and the United States to popularize the vehicle and celebrate its driving experience, which enthusiasts describe as an entertaining form of cardio-vascular exercise. Hosted primarily by the TWIKE KLUB organizations in Switzerland and Germany, such events have included rallies and tours of Europe and the U.S.
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