Thursday 31 March 2016

Schaeffler gives new meaning to “hybrid”

German automotive and industrial parts supplier Schaeffler has developed a new form of transport, a “bio hybrid” which it hails an “innovative micro-mobility concept”.

Schaeffler claims a desire for “emission-free, clean mobility is leading to a political rethink and therefore giving rise to new, individual mobility solutions in urban centres.”  
As part of its own “holistic strategy”, it has developed a “new concept” which it sees as “mobility for tomorrow”, a sophisticated E-bike.

“All-electric mobility will not be sufficient to guarantee sustainable, energy-efficient mobility for tomorrow in the passenger car sector”, claims Professor Peter Gutzmer, deputy chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Schaeffler AG.
“The bio hybrid (above)  shows how Schaeffler envisages a solution for urban mobility. It is similar to a bicycle, but without the disadvantages in terms of weather protection and stowage space,” he adds. “Thanks to the pedelec drive system, the bio hybrid can be operated without a driver’s license and can be used on cycle tracks.” 
Prof. Gutzmer sees Schaeffler’s bio hybrid as combining the advantages of stability and weather protection with the energy consumption and space utilization of a pedelec.
The bio-hybrid has an electrically-assisted drive system suitable for speeds up to 25km/h with a minimum range of 50km.
The battery has a nominal power range of 250-750W depending on national legal requirements.
Prof. Gutzmer envisages that the driver can travel in a “sporty and comfortable manner”.
The new vehicle platform has two front and rear wheels to provide increased “safety and driving stability”. It can also be driven “easily” on cycle tracks due its “compact dimensions” of 2.1m long x 1.5m high and 85cm wide. It has a track width of 80cm.
The electric reverse gear also enables manoeuvring without “any problems”, according to the professor.
                                     Extravagant design

Schaeffler claims that in combination with its portable battery system, variable luggage compartment and automatic gearshift system, this one+one seater (two seats) can be integrated into the existing infrastructure and day-to-day life without any major changes.
The “extravagant design underlines the lifestyle character and matches the innovative roof construction, which can be easily stowed under the seat by means of an intelligent swing mechanism,” extolls the company.
With the weather protection retracted, the bio hybrid is “transformed into a stylish cabriolet and allows the driver to enjoy the fresh air”.
And with an integrated smartphone connection, the driver can be linked to a large number of apps and can access information, for example, about the weather and traffic situation at any time. 
Prof. Gutzmer adds: “Important prerequisites with regard to infrastructure must be fulfilled before this type of individual mobility can become established on the market. Metropolitan areas and major cities must continue to change – and they will.”
The professor see widespread scope for the ‘vehicle’.
“Cities such as London, Paris and Singapore are already investing hundreds of millions in the development of cycle tracks,” he concludes. “High-speed cycle tracks, which connect cities, for example, in the Ruhr area, will enable extension stages of the micro-mobile with higher speeds. There are already discussions in Germany about opening cycle tracks with a legal speed limit of 40 km/h. All these developments mean that our concept has great potential to change urban mobility”.
Schaeffler Group, which embraces FAG, INA and Luk, is not the first automotive parts supplier to look at the potential offered by an electric-drive bicycle. The potential for world-wide sales of basic components such a bearings and drive systems which could run into millions, is clearly attractive.
But easing drivers painlessly out of their comfortable cars to use other forms of ‘transport’ is going to require a good deal of ingenuity – both financial and technological.

But with its bio-hybrid, Schaeffler is clearly looking to boost its own sales which, in 2015 reached €13.2 billion. With 84,000 employees, Schaeffler claims to be one of the world`s largest “family companies” and, with some 170 locations in 50 countries. It has a worldwide network of manufacturing locations, R&D facilities and sales outlets. 

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