A couple days ago the New York Times published an article about an electric bike.
The Eneloop, priced at $2,300, came to stores in the United States late last year. It operates like any normal bike and, save for the black lithiumion battery strapped to the frame beneath the seat, looks exactly like one as well. But when you press a button on the left handlebar, a 250-watt motor gently kicks in, providing about twice the power as your own pedaling — and making you feel like Lance Armstrong on even the steepest slopes.
“The average auto trip in the U.S. is five miles or less,” said David Cabanban, bicycle business manager at Sanyo North America. “At the end of the day, how do you lower pollution and get people healthy? We’ve got to get people back to riding bikes.”
Mr Cabanban offers two points: lower pollution and get people healthy. That's great, but I have to question the use of an electric bike for achieving both goals. An electric bike must be recharged. Riding an electric bike can reduce auto exhaust. One less car, right? But the power required to recharge the bike has to come from somewhere. An electrical assist that will last for 46 miles--and who wouldn't take advantage of that on a 50-pound bike?--hardly entices one to push their physical capabilities.
In the 1990s, people like Lee Iacocca and Malcolm Currie, the former chief executive of Hughes Aircraft, got into the e-bike business. Their bikes had heavy steel frames and the same lead acid batteries used in automobiles, which themselves could weigh 80 pounds. The entire Eneloop weights [sic] about 50 pounds.
What puzzles me is who is in the target market for a $2300 electric bike that weighs 50 pounds?