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A New Kind of Funky Hybrid: Solar and Pedal Power


Craig Sparks shows off Organic Transit's Elf vehicle, a solar powered bicycle.A new type of hybrid vehicle has debuted, and it’s completely clean.

Combining solar power and cycling, the Elf was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show last week. Billed as the future of environmentally friendly transport, the solar powered hybrid bicycle appears to be an inverted tricycle with an oval-shaped body.

With no doors or flooring inside, the vehicle resembles something from The Flinstones. Craig Sparks, of Organic Transit, spoke about the vehicle and the company.

“We believe in human-powered mobility,” he said. “[The Elf] is a town runner. You can run your errands, go to the grocery store. You don’ t need a car.”

Starting at $7,000, the solar powered hybrid bicycle may carry a bit of sticker shock at first, but it eventually pays for itself in fuel savings. The Elf is started up by a modified pedal crank. When moving, steering and braking is done with the handlebars.

The battery, with a distance of approximately 30 miles before the user has to pedal to keep moving, will supply enough power to take the vehicle up to speeds of 25 miles per hour. The solar energy is collected by a rooftop panel; no fuel required to use the Elf at all.

As to how the vehicle is built, the body of the Elf is Trylon plastic, with an aluminium frame. The motor and pedal system work independent of one another. Currently, the batteries are a lithium-ion manganese unit, but future plans are to use power generated by pedalling to charge the batteries.

Federally, the Elf is classified as a bicycle. As a vehicle, it requires no registration or insurance. State or local guidelines, however, may differ. Already a year into sales online, the company has now plans to sell itself to increase its current production of the solar powered hybrid bicycle beyond 20 units a week.

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