Therange of vehicles have long been one of the smallest, most practical methods of motorised transport for city dwellers, and they're about to get even smaller thanks to the introduction of a new range of Smart ebike electric bicycles.
The ebike, which has been co-developed by Berlin-based electric bike-maker Grace, is described by Daimler as a hybrid, as its 250W electric motor switches on only when the rider begins pedalling.
That means riders can't skive off completely, but they will be able to select the amount of assistance they require, by pushing a button on the handlebar to choose from four different power levels.
Juice is provided by a 400Wh lithium-ion battery pack that can last for "more than 62 miles", though this figure will fluctuate depending on the power level selected, which of the three gears the user has selected, and the type of road they're cycling on.
Like all good electric vehicles, the ebike also features a regenerative braking system that turns the motor into an electric generator whenever the user applies the front or rear-mounted MT4 disc brakes.
The ebike earns its Smart status thanks to a "state of the art" infomation and entertainment system. This takes the form of an integrated USB port, to which riders can connect smart phones. Daimler says it's working on an app that displays the bike's charging status and range, though users can also run mapping or music playback apps while cycling.
Electric bicycles are big business in Europe. Sales reached 200,000 in 2007 and increased to a whopping 500,000 by 2009, according to ZIV. By 2010, around 700,000 electric bicycles were sold across Europe -- a 40 per cent increase on sales the previous year.
The Smart ebike is scheduled for release in the UK in 2012 for an as yet undisclosed price. What do you think? Fancy a little help on your pushbike? Peddle your thoughts in the comments section or on our Facebook page.