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).
Constructed of lightweight materials such as aluminium and plastic, this 246 kg (542 lb) (unladen) tricycle vehicle uses a lithium-mangan battery. Ranges of 300 miles are possible. 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 (i.e., 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.
Method of Operation
In motion, the TWIKE is controlled using a single joystick, more akin to the tiller on a sailboat than a computer 'drive-by-wire' joystick. It is generally capable of speeds up to 85 kilometers per hour (53 mph). Fully charged, the vehicle is capable of travelling between over 300 miles per charge, depending on terrain, speed, driving style, weight of passengers and cargo, and of course the amount of pedaling by the pilot and passenger.
The TWIKE's on-board computer controls all aspects of battery charging, discharging and power utilization. Modification of user-controllable system parameters can significantly affect performance, yielding faster or slower acceleration and longer or shorter ranges (American TWIKE enthusiasts have reported achieving speeds in excess of 105 km/h (65 mph)).
Cost of operation
||This section possibly contains original research. (November 2009)|
In the United Kingdom, a kWh of electricity costs between about 4 pence (overnight, where the home is one of the 20% on "off-peak" two-rate tariffs) and 17 pence (daytime) (average: 7 pence using fuzzy math, 10.5 pence normally), meaning a full charge of a standard two-battery TWIKE would cost about 21-31 pence. In the United States, a kWh of electricity costs generally 10 cents, subject to change, meaning a full charge would cost 30 to 45 cents (this calculation requires using an assumption of combined efficiency of the battery accepting charge and the charger providing charge to fall within the range of: 73% to 110% for the 3.3 KWH battery or; 133% to 200% for the 6 KWH battery).
If variable rate electric plans are available with reduced rates at non-peak hours (typically in the wee hours of the morning), overnight kWh rates can be as low as 1-3 cents (US), thus a full charge could be had for as little as 3-9 cents.
To compare to refueling a gasoline-powered car, filling up a Twike to go the equivalent miles of a 'tank full' of gas in a 4-door car (8 charge cycles would equal approximately 300 miles (480 km), or 'a tankful' on an average sedan, since a two-battery TWIKE has a range of up to 40 miles (64 km)) would cost at:
- 1 cent/kWh = 24 cents for 300 miles (480 km)
- 3 cents/kWh = 72 cents for 300 miles (480 km)
- 10 cents/kWh = $2.40 for 300 miles (480 km)
Calculations made from data from the UK TWIKE site on August 6, 2007. Monetary conversions to US$ on August 28, 2007. -> This calculation is out of date (based on the former Nickel Cadium batteries) because there are much better batteries available based on Lithium-Manganese.
Availability for Purchase
In the United States, there are approximately 20-25 TWIKEs, with at least 10 TWIKES currently in operation. The TWIKE is registered with the US DOT as a motorcycle, and thus is legal to import or to drive anywhere motorcycles may be ridden. This is a Federal designation, which applies in all 50 of the United States. Import to Canada and Mexico is possible, pending government approval in those countries or an equivalent NAFTA ruling.
The 2007 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book offered the TWIKE for sale. Their exclusive edition featured a sporty British racing green exterior to balance its silver-grey interior, velour carpeting, and leather seats. ($40,000; page 89)
Normal pricing for a TWIKE starts at about 25.000 € (basic version, two battery packs included).
More than 1000 TWIKEs have been sold, most of them operating on the streets of Switzerland and Germany. They are also driven in the United Kingdom, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Morocco, Canada, Australia and the United States.
The TWIKE I was developed for the 1986 World EXPO in Vancouver, Canada by a group of Swiss students. It won the "Functionality Award" for the best ergonomic design in the Innovative Vehicle Design Competition (IVDC) and a first prize in the International Human Powered Vehicle Speed Championship . The TWIKE I was completely driven by human power.
Inspired by the success of the TWIKE I, a group of enthusiasts including Ralph Schnyder and Peter Zeller began to develop the TWIKE II as a step towards a vehicle for everyday road use. It was developed in cooperation with Alusuisse-Lonza Services, has been shown on the HEUREKA exhibition in Zürich, and took part in the 1991 Tour de Sol Alpin. The TWIKE II featured a belt pedal drive with infinitely variable mechanical transmission and a DC motor powered by NiCd batteries to help propel the vehicle. The suitability for everyday use turned out to be significantly improved.
In 1992, the newly founded TWIKE Ltd. decided to develop the TWIKE II into a production vehicle and began looking for capital and customers. Production of the TWIKE III began in 1995 and during 1996 the now reformed TWIKE AG produced and sold 190 vehicles, mostly in Switzerland and Germany. The TWIKE III was already equipped with an asynchronous AC motor and 336V NiCd batteries - the system that is still in use today. The pedal drive was simplified to a 5-speed hub gear and was included in all but very few special order vehicles.
In 1998, FINE Mobile GmbH launched its German TWIKE production line and finally became the exclusive producer of the TWIKE after taking over the rights of the SwissLEM AG in 2002. Today the TWIKE is produced in Rosenthal, a small village in Hessen near Marburg.
- Sinclair C5 - Another pedal/battery three-wheeled vehicle.
- TW4XP - a car resembling the Twike that particated on the Automotive X Prize
- Ameren Day-Ahead/Realtime Pricing Rates
- Google-translated Twike Pilot's List by Country, Twike Klub, May 30, 2008
- Twikeklub.ch Twike US-Tour (repair) 2005
- Driver's Bicycling Alternative Sure to be a Hit, Chicago Sun-Times, August 14, 2006
- "Team TW4XP". Retrieved 6 November 2009.