An Electric Pedicab Powered By Human Energy, Designed For Short City Trips

On the Mellowcab, pedaling doesn't propel the vehicle forward. It helps charge an electric battery and get commuters to work on time.

Getting to work in South Africa can be a painful process, unless you happen to be among the wealthy few who own a car. Most people commute on overcrowded, notoriously dangerous minibus taxis that end up in around 70,000 crashes every year and kill an average of three people every day. The taxis are also responsible for ever-increasing congestion and pollution in cities like Cape Town.
One solution, at least for short commutes, might come in the form of a new electric pedicab called the Mellowcab. Designed to fill the "last mile" gap for commuters, the Mellowcab is powered both by a hydrogen fuel cell and human energy--pedaling doesn't propel the cab forward, but helps charge an electric battery. The cab also captures energy every time the driver brakes.
The designers say using electric power was an obvious choice. "Electric vehicles are very efficient, maintenance is minimal compared to traditional cars, and it has no direct emissions," says Neil Du Preez, founder of the company behind the Mellowcab. Over time, he plans to build renewably-powered charging stations for the cabs as well.
Inside the cab's recycled plastic frame, things are nothing like the typical South African taxi: Riders have plenty of room, a place to charge a mobile phone, and a tablet they can use to provide real-time feedback to the cab company about how safely the driver is maneuvering through traffic.
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