Interbike 2009 Sanyo Electric Bike launches the Eneloop in North America

Think Gaia: Sanyo launches the Eneloop in North America.

By Jen Moore,

During the second day of the Outdoor Demo at Interbike 2009 Itook some time to chat with David Cabanban of Sanyo. I know whatyou are thinking…Sanyo? Yes Sanyo! Sanyo is the fourth largestelectronics manufacturer worldwide and with a commitment to theenvironment the concept fits. Holding to the motto of “Think Gaia,For Life and the Earth” the Eneloop may just place Sanyo at thefront of the electric utility bike category here in North Americawith 300,000 bikes sold in Japan alone.

With a firm grip in China and Japan and gaining popularity inthe UK Sanyo will bring the Eneloop to the US market this October.The Eneloop is available in one color only. White. Why? One of theaesthetics of the Eneloop is a new “skin” concept. One will be ableto purchase skins that are removable and interchangeable tocustomize the look of the bike. The Eneloop also comes in one size!With a seat stem that is adjustable on the fly David claims that80% of consumers will be able to fit the Eneloop. The Eneloop has astep through frame style that seems more “feminine” but given theabilities to mobilize small families Dad will enjoy this bike aswell.

Eneloop is supposed to triple a rider’s pedal power with aforward-wheel motor and a system Sanyo describes as a 1:2 powerassist ratio – this means around 30% of the power is generated byyour own legs while 70% comes from the motor. It will go up to 100kilometers on a single (3.5 hour) charge of the bike’s 25.2v, 27Ahlithium-ion batteries (in Auto mode). Eneloop has three speeds andis a third more powerful than Sanyo’s last electric bicycle model,the Enacle. The shifting is smooth and easy from the handle barshifter. The battery also charges the integrated light system withfront light and back red light that blinks upon breaking.

On the uphill back into the demo area (where I rode in under myown power earlier in the a.m.) I was able to press a small buttonon the control pad on the left handlebar to shift the bike intoAuto mode, which then determines when the motor should kick in.With a 70% assist I cruised up the hill with ease. On the flatareas I kept the bike in regular mode and pedaled along merrily.Parents will be able to load down the bike with the kids in thetrailer or a heavy load from the grocery store and press the PowerUp mode which provides twice the force of regular pedaling. Davidtold me that the typical “Soccer Mom” will be able to reduce hercarbon foot print by 20% using the bike for trips to the grocerystore, post office and of course the Sunday morning soccer games.Much like a hybrid car the battery is recharged during down hillcoasting and braking. College students who have been able to testthe bike love the Eneloop and predictably will be a popular choicefor them as well. So grab your books, hook up the kid trailer, orback your picnic basket and head out to the beach, and take a rideon the newest utility bike Sanyo’s Eneloop. Fun and function all inone!