• Tech Tech

Revolutionary new e-bike can fold up to the size of a suitcase: 'Like a Transformer'

The bike reaches top speeds of 25 miles per hour.

Tatamel E-bike

There's a new electric bike that could change the game for short-range commuters and apartment dwellers alike: the Tatamel from Japanese manufacturer Icoma.

The Tatamel is what's called a "last-mile vehicle," meaning an electric vehicle designed for short-range use. But what the Tatamel lacks in distance, it makes up for in convenience, because, as CNET explains, it can "can fold up like a Transformer" into a suitcase-sized package that can fit under your desk.

The electric bike, which will be launching in Japan this year, was unveiled at CES 2023, a major consumer technology trade show. The Tatamel has rectangular wooden side panels which Icoma co-founder Takuma Ogata says are intentionally simple — they can be traded out for LCD screens, solar panels, durable sheet metal, or just decorated with personalized graphics. 

The bike is similarly versatile. The battery doubles as a portable charger for laptops and other devices, and the side panels fold up into a desk. The bike reaches top speeds of 25 miles per hour.

Electric vehicles are getting more attention in recent years because they're actually more affordable to drive than those with traditional combustion engines, while also being better for the planet. EVs produce far fewer toxic fumes and heat-trapping gases and can be charged using energy from affordable and clean sources like wind and solar. 

They're also much quieter than traditional vehicles. A widespread shift to EVs would mean quieter, cleaner roads and cities. 

Such a shift seems more and more likely as EV technology advances. While Icoma concentrates on making vehicles compact and multi-purpose, companies like Our Next Energy are developing more efficient batteries that increase the range of electric cars, and Ford is broadening the market for EVs with an all-electric pickup truck.

Imad Khan, a reporter at CNET who viewed the bike at CES 2023, wrote that the vehicle "will cost the equivalent of $4,000" when it retails in Japan this spring. 

"Ogata said there are plans to bring it overseas, but a time frame wasn't given," Khan added. 

Still, the time is clearly approaching when the Tatamel and other space-saving EV options will be within the grasp of buyers worldwide.

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