Bosch’s New Solar Electric Bike System

Bosch Solar Energy has unveiled a solar bike system incorporating Bosch’s unique drive unit at the Solar Power International 2010 event in Los Angeles.

The e-bike is recharged courtesy of the sun and UL 1703-certified, thin-film Bosch Solar Module µm-Si plus NA1110 modules that can charge the bike’s 8 amp hour lithium-ion battery in just two and a half hours. Bosch says its micromorph thin-film solar panels can operate in low light conditions, making them suited to the less sunny regions of the world.

The core of the e-bike drive is the drive unit, consisting of an electric motor with control unit and sensors. E-bikes with the Bosch drive don’t replace pedaling, but rather support it by adding power automatically by sensing the rider’s exertion and drive selection.

For example, the pedal force sensor can detect a situation such as a strong headwind indirectly through the increased effort of the rider to maintain speed. The sensor reports this to the computer in the drive unit, which reacts immediately and provides a little more motor power.

Bosch says a battery charge at the highest level of support will provide approximately 35 kilometres of range, but at lower levels distances of up to 80 kilometres are achievable.

The Bosch drive system can propel the bike at up  to 25 kilometres per hour; above which the rider pedals unassisted. The reason for this limitation is so the bike can remain a bike in the eyes of the law in many countries and the vehicle will not require registration.

Bosch says it has goals of becoming one of the leading providers in the rapidly expanding e-bike market.

Aside from its major push into e-bike technology, Bosch is also making its presence felt in the world of solar power. In August this year, Bosch Solar Energy AG opened its new solar cell production plant, an important step towards a fully integrated facility capable of processing of silicon ingots right through to solar panel production.