An unusual hybrid bike being developed in Durham, North Carolina could be the future of urban transportation, according to its creators. Rob Cotter of Organic Transit says his machine, called the ''Elf'',brings a new level of efficiency to commuting and offers a realistic alternative for people looking for a sustainable, eco-friendly way to get around. Ben Gruber reports.
It's called an Elf…and according to its developers it's the future of sustainable transportation. The Elf is part bike and part electric vehicle. Its gear system is designed to maximize and balance the energy output between pedal power and a high torque/high RPM solar powered electric motor. Designer Rob Cotter says the Elf is the perfect marriage between man and machine power. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ROB COTTER, CEO & FOUNDER, ORGANIC TRANSIT, SAYING: "There is nothing else really that a consumer or a company can engage for this cost and have this kind of positive environmental effect. An Elf used on the road a lot can mitigate about 6 tonnes of CO2 per year. So you would have to have a 100 percent solarised home to equate that and this is at a fraction of the cost." And it's no slow-poke on the road. The Elf can travel at 30 miles per hour carrying a 350 pound payload with an efficiency equivalent to a conventional car travelling at 1800 miles per gallon. And on days when a rider is feeling lazy, the Elf can travel 17 miles on motor power alone, further than the average US commuter travels per day. More than 400 Elf's have been sold in 7 countries over the past 2 years and Cotter says sales are on the rise. And he says with advances in driverless technology... it wont be too long before… (SOUNDBITE) (English) ROB COTTER, CEO & FOUNDER, ORGANIC TRANSIT, SAYING: "Autonomous Elf's. So you are waiting for your Elf to come, I am suppose to have an appointment if I wanted to go somewhere, oh here it comes now and you hop in and go and also making deliveries as a small drone. SO if it carries 350-400 pounds of packages not a bad way to go for UPS or FedEx or the postal service." Cotter and his team are now designing the Elf's big brother, the Ox, which will be able to carry a payload of 850 pounds. It's an important step Cotter says towards making his hybrid vehicle a sturdier, more attractive alternative for eco-conscious commuters in the years to come.