Japanese electronics giant Panasonic is to launch a US$1,400 hybrid electric bicycle which will store power from braking in order to recharge a battery that can then be used to power the bike uphills.
It works on the principle of transforming the kinetic energy of going downhill (usually lost in the form of heat or noise) into electrical energy.
The bicycle is due to go on the Japanese market on August 20th and if successful Panasonic will consider launching it in the UK. The Panasonic Vivi RX-10S means that energy from braking will be used to recharge a secondary battery – apparently a lithium-ion model weighing just 2.5kg/5.5lbs.
A fully automatic mode (one of four different power modes) will use sensors which work out when the cyclist is going uphill, or even just moving off from a standing start, so that the electric motor can kick in at the appropriate time.
Panasonic lithium-ion battery technology is currently used on some non-regenerative electric bikes in the UK such as the Kalkhoff range and is one of the few brands of electric bike battery that come with a guarantee (some other makes of lithium ion battery have reportedly failed in use).