On Wednesday morning, at the first day of the Interbike indoor conference, SANYO released their new eneloop electric hybrid bike. Mr. Nagahata and Mr. Murata (pictured above) and David Cabanban (shown in video) from SANYO held a press conference to unveil the Synergetic Hybrid Bicycle, as it is called, to the US market.
The eneloop bike is a 26-inch, three-speed regenerative, pedal-assist hybrid electric bicycle. Riders can propel the eneloop bike under their own power or can engage the bike's motor and electrical system to pedal in one of three motor assist modes- standard, power-up or auto.
Apart from the multiple motor assist modes, two additional features set the eneloop bike apart from other pedal-assist hybrids. SANYO employs its unique torque-sensing Power Management Controller, where assisted power is automatically applied according to differences in sloping terrain. The Loop Charging or energy looping system (where the bike gets its name) captures the energy generated during riding and uses it to recharge the battery.
The move makes sense for SANYO as they are the biggest supplier of rechargeable batteries in the world today. While SANYO will be licensing the technology to bike manufacturers in Europe, the Company will sell the complete bike in the US market. SANYO hopes to turn their ebike group into a $100 million dollar business by 2011.
A few bikes were available for us to ride around the demo pit area. They rode very much like normal bikes and the power-up motor assist mode was fantastic. I could use that on the steep hills I have to ride up after cruising to the grocery store on my bike.
Video clips from the press conference can be seen below (sorry for a bit of shaky cam). Intersting to note that the day after SANYO announced the eneloop bike, another Japanese company, Honda, announced their electric unicycle! Check out the video of the Honda press conference coverage from the BBC.