Following the success of Ultra Motor’s Light Electric Vehicle (LEV) in India and China, this eco and economical form of urban transport is set to go on sale in the U.S. this summer, and in Europe later this year. The 2008 electric bike, the “A2B”, offers the style of a bike with the power of an electric motor, offering ‘unassisted power’ for up to 20miles, with a top speed of 20mph/33kmph.

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Priced at $2,200 and available through retailers across the states (incl. California, Ohio, New York and Texas), the A2B “comes with a tissue-box-sized removable lithium ion battery that can be charged in a normal electric outlet, just like a mobile phone.” In an article written for BusinessWeek (March 2008), Jennifer L. Schenker explained the relevant timing for the launch of Ultra Motor’s electric transport, noting ever-crowding cities and high oil prices making the market timing just right.

Not only is the A2B a great form of sustainable travel, but the six year old British company Ultra Motor have extended the design and are currently rolling out their concept for ‘LEV Cities’, “a new transportation system providing clean mobility to city dwellers, commuters and tourists alike.” Similar to the Vélib’ bicycle rental scheme in Paris, the LEV City is built on a network of charging stations and is incredibly simple to use; once registered as a LEV user, you find a charging station, dock your bike, swipe your card, charge the battery… and ride (there is a short animation, illustrating the concept on the Ultra Motor website).

Just last week, BusinessWeek reported that Stuttgart have signed up with the British company, to make LEV’s available for rent throughout the German city: “LEV parking spots, which will be connected to the electricity grid in Stuttgart and double as charging stations, will be sprinkled every 150-200 meters throughout the city. The plan is to have 1,200 LEVs available for rent at 250 stations in a first phase, and 10 times that many in a second phase, says Ultra Motor Chief Executive Joe Bowman. Launch is expected in about 10 months.”

What a refreshingly simple and sustainable concept! Maybe we are looking at the future of inner city travel.

+ Ultra Motors + BusinessWeek (June 2008). Urban Eco-Transport to Hit the Street. + BusinessWeek (March 2008). Revolutionizing Urban Transport.