The Planet Rider Experience
Let me take you on a ride in this strange-looking vehicle that doesn’t quite resemble anything you have ever seen at a motor show. Its streamlined shape lets you think of an exotic gourd on three wheels. But as you inspect it closer you begin to realize that it is something like an electric car, half the width and length of a Volkswagen Beetle. Its weight: 200 pounds, that is one fifteenth of what the latest model of the German car puts on the scale.
You open the transparent door – which is also the windshield – in front of the crush-proof steel-and-polycarbonate chassis and can now enter the “cockpit.” You step over a nine inch high lip and easily slide through an open space that is wider and higher than that provided by the open door of a full-size sedan. You hardly need to duck down as you get on, the seat you take is about the height of a dinner chair. You make yourself comfortable, pull in the door, strap on the safety belt. Then you grab the vertical hand grips with the twist accelerator and the brake lever similar to those of a motorcycle. You are ready to go on a smooth, a very smooth ride.
No ignition key, just a start button. No engine noise, no emissions. Just the sound of silence from the three electric hub motors, it’s an all-wheel drive. You roll down the driveway and turn onto a road which will take you to your work in town, it’s a 30 mile commute and no sweat for the two Lithium based batteries under your seat. They can be removed with one click, are lighter than two gallons of milk and recharge at any wall socket: One refill takes only 15 minutes, providing the vehicle with another 50 mile range at extremely low cost. Expressed in hard cold numbers it is about 26 times more expensive to operate a sedan for one year than to use a Planet Rider, as it costs about $ 7,800 to operate the gas guzzler as opposed to only $ 300 for the electric vehicle.
As you make your way to town, you first get on a freeway. The Planet Rider has some of the characteristics of a motor scooter, so it is classified as a motorcycle in this high-speed territory – and it does very well in this league also. It travels at speeds of up to 65 mph without any problems, but when it gets off the fast lanes onto the city’s slower urban trails, its bike paths and commuter lanes it demonstrates its true talents and abilities.
The vehicle is only 34 inch wide and has, with its three motorized wheels, uncompromised maneuverability. At lower speeds the eye level of the rider is higher than a typical car, making it easier to see and be seen by surrounding vehicles. You are able to thread between cars and weave in and out of traffic, transit easily from bike path to city street, safely pass bikers and pedestrians, and move accurately in the tightest of parking spaces.
Your Planet Rider follows the movements of your hands as you steer with the vertical hand grips: You can speed up, slow down, stop and turn with simple and natural gestures. At slow forward speed, the vehicle is at an almost upright position. But as you go faster, the rear swing actuator lowers the rear of the vehicle and your seating position lowers and reclines. As it does, the center of gravity lowers, thus improving stability and reducing aerodynamic drag. At the same time the motion split mechanism prevents you from experiencing any horizontal – centrifugal -- sideways acceleration.
But that’s not all. There is also an exercise bike built into the Rider: Its pedals are always within reach on the floor level, and as you do your workout, you turn a generator that charges the batteries. The vehicle may be pedaled at a standstill or at 65 miles per hour with equal ease. The rate of pedaling is electronically adjusted according to your preference. And there is one more power source built into the circuit of the Planet Rider: Using regenerative principles, approximately 20 percent of the energy usually lost from braking, turning and coasting is harvested and stored in the battery bank.
So what is the Planet Rider really? It is certainly a completely different beast than a gasoline minicar. And though it contains some of the elements of an electric bicycle, it is far superior in regards to protection from weather, rider safety, cargo capacity and speed. Calling it a Three Wheel Electrical Scooter comes somewhat closer to the mark, but not very close either because of the scooters’ high prices, safety and weather shortcomings and other factors.
The Planet Rider, one might say, is the first successful attempt to provide both the advantages of a car and of an electric bike in one vehicle. It is a hybrid vehicle whose drivetrain consists of a human being, ultra efficient electric hub motors, a revolutionary new alternator and lithium phosphate batteries. It has the characteristics of a motor scooter with the added features of faster acceleration, regenerative breaking and all-wheel drive, resulting in higher average speeds and shorter commute times, even on routes that are mainly uphill. The Planet Rider provides all that a commuter would reasonably expect or need, as well as what he may want but doesn’t know is even possible.