During the international Cities for Mobility Conference in June 2008, the city of Stuttgart presented their big pedelec project to the public. Since the first presentation in Taipei in March 2008, the original idea of a pedelec leasing system and public battery exchange stations has evolved into a two-step concept.
June 2, 2008: At Stuttgart’s market square, just in front of the city hall, electric bikes were the center of attention. Here, the ExtraEnergy test track invited visitors of the Cities for Mobility Conference, which took place from June 1-4, 2008, and the interested public to test ride pedelecs and e-bikes. At 1.30 pm, the Mayor of Stuttgart, finally uncovered the mystery behind the white cover: a changing station for pedelecs. Together with the project partners ExtraEnergy, Ultra Motor of UK, Welldone of Taiwan, and Olimpia of Hungary, Mayor Dr. Schuster presented the two-step concept that is supposed to help Stuttgart change from a car into a pedelec city.
1. Step: Rental Stations
During the first phase, public pedelecs will be available at fixed stations for subscribers and tourists for automatic delivery. This system is similar to the “velip” concept in Paris, although velip only involves regular bicycles. Within only a few months, the bicycle rent system has turned Paris into a cycling city. A similar effect is expected in Stuttgart – using pedelecs.
The first step of the Stuttgart project is based on the technology of Ultra Motor of UK. The pedelec that they created to work with the rental stations is a specialized version of their A2B model. It comes with full suspension, MTB parts and a modern frame design. The A2B has been developed by leading industrial designer Norbert Haller and his team in Berlin. According to the initial business plan, 1,200 vehicles will be located in the Stuttgart at 300 rental stations. For only 10 Euros per month, the project partners promise an unlimited number of rides.
2. Step: Pedelec Leasing and Battery Exchange Stations
The second phase of the project is going to be even more exciting because the pedelec offer will not be limited to the 600,000 inhabitants of the inner city but also to the four million people who live in the outskirts of Stuttgart. The goal is to get 300,000 pedelecs on the road by means of a leasing system. This system will enable any pedelec manufacturer to participate in the project, which is scheduled to take off by 2011. The first product to use the batteries of the exchange stations is the Gepida pedelec by Olimpia of Hungary. How the system works in detail is described in the article Pedelec Leasing Scheme – Pilot Project in Stuttgart.
Also Critical Voices
All important German newspapers reported about Stuttgart’s pedelec plan and the presentation on June 2nd. Most articles expressed enthusiasm for the idea. Critical voices came from the local parties – SPD and the Green Party of all parties, who’s main credo is the protection of the environment. They all want pedelecs in the city – no doubt – but they don’t want the rental stations to be financed by advertising as the business plan of Ultra Motor envisions. Anyway, political issues probably played the major role in this discussion rather than the design, size and financing of the stations themselves. The station that was presented at Stuttgart’s market square (see photos) was a design model to show the concept, not the final style.
Regardless of some dispute within the local government, Stuttgart is very eager to encourage the use of pedelecs in the city as a means of daily transport. The local industry, Bosch in particular, is very interested to be part of this project.
(by Susanne Bruesch and Patrick Knappick)
June 25, 2008