Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Can things get any worse for the car industry?
Just when you thought hybrid cars were all the rage in Japan, they’re being shoved aside for the environmental cachet by an even greener alternative: electric bicycles.
Motor-assisted “hybrid” bicycles are gaining traction thanks to a greying population and a growing interest in being green and healthy.
Last week, I got to test out one of these products at an event sponsored by Yamaha Motor. With a battery-powered electric motor to propel you, cycling up a hill while carrying two toddlers (or two 10-kg tanks of water, in my case) is a cinch. When the motor kicks in, it feels like someone is giving you a push from behind; and it never feels dangerous because the motor adjusts to the force and speed of your own pedalling.
Unlike the popular motorised bicycles sold in China, Japanese ones require no licence because the motor is made to switch off once the bicycle reaches the 24 km/hour legal limit for assisted riding.