TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's Sanyo Electric Co. on Monday unveiled a new electric hybrid bicycle that can triple the user's pedal power to make it easier to climb hills.
Equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the "eneloop bike" takes the crossover between a normal bicycle and a moped one step further, aiming to tap growing interest in tackling global warming.
The system harnesses energy from braking when the bike goes downhill, and can add extra power equivalent to double the rider's pedal force for going uphill, in line with relaxed government restrictions on such systems.
The eneloop bike can travel 1.8 times faster than conventional bicycles thanks to the motor powering its front wheel, the company said.
Sanyo, which has rebranded itself as a purveyor of green technology, hopes to increase its market position in power-assisted bicycles, demand for which has almost doubled over the past eight years to hit about 283,000 last year.
The bicycle sells for 136,290 yen (1,430 dollars) and will be in stores in Japan from February 2009. A company spokeswoman said the firm also aims to launch the new bike overseas at some point in the future.