The city of Stuttgart, Germany, is planning to set up a pedelec leasing scheme and 500 battery vending machines in public locations and turn the hilly area into a pedelec city.
It all began with a pedelec race in the hilly city of Stuttgart during the 2007 bicycle world championship. Politicians of the city raced on pedelecs against well-trained cyclists on road racing bikes––and won. A pedelec promotion month in Stuttgart downtown in fall 2007 contributed to the pedelec enthusiasm among the mayor and his team: They want to turn Stuttgart into a pedelec city with international significance.
Batteries from the Machine
The plan is to sell pedelecs and electric scooters from different manufacturers to the inhabitants of Stuttgart on a 4-year contract basis as it is common with cell phones. Customers buy the vehicle but not the battery and the charger. At around 500 battery vending machines, which will be located in central spots all over the city and its outscirts, customers can exchange their empty battery for a charged one.
For around 30 Euros, roughly calculated, pedelec users will be provided with charged batteries at any time said Hannes Neupert of ExtraEnergy at LEV Conference in March 2008. The goal is to set up this infrastructure in cooperation with Bosch, energy supplier EDF, the local public transport network VVS, and an investor within the next three years. A prototype of such a battery vending machine was presented by industrial designer Johanna Tiffe at the same Conference in Taipei.
Rental systems for electric bikes with battery charging stations is nothing new. Earlier projects, which were mainly found in Japan, failed because they were limited to the technology of one manufacturer only. As soon as better batteries were available, not only the batteries had to be changed but also the entire charging equipment. A standard for the electric components was missing. EnergyBus is supposed to solve this problem. BATSO certification will be obligatory for all batteries involved to ensure the safety of the system.
The World is watching
With this project, Stuttgart’s Mayor Dr. Schuster intends to make the hilly Region of Stuttgart more attractive for cycling and hopes to reach 20% bicycle traffic share in the future.
Being the coordinator of the Cities for Mobility network, Stuttgart is an internationally well-connected city. Stuttgart’s mayor is also president of the Committee on Urban Mobility of the United Cities and Local Governments UCLG network. This Committee represents local city governments, which, alltogehter, include more than 50% of the world population in almost 140 countries. If the project succeeds, there will be a lot of imitators worldwide.
As the metropolis of the car industry, Stuttgart holds and excellent industrial infrastructure which can be involved in the development of this project. Mayor Dr. Schuster also invited the international audience at Taipei LEV Conference, through video, to participate in this project.
The photo above shows the battery vending panel prototype by Johanna Tiffe. The picture was taken in Hsinchu, Taiwan in front of a bus station with solar roof to show a possible scenario of such infrastructure.
More about the 2007 Pedelec race
More about LEV Conference 2008
The Mayor's speech at 2008 LEV Conference in Taipei (PDF 2.8MB)
Last updated: May 2, 2008