They don't fit my aesthetic, but could these bikes (and bikes like them) fit the bill for moms wary of abandoning their SUV's to run errands and pick up kids? A comment on the Sanyo Eneloop got me thinking:
This is what the Japanese call the "Mama-chari". Its a purely commuter bicycle, designed for housewives and grannies that go to the grocery and run errands.At $1800, this electric bike is a lot more economical than the Velorbis Elechic and all that plastic belies it's fancy-schmanciness and innovative technology. Maybe e-bikes like these could nudge moms into the bike lanes (or streets more than likely) because they'd know that the pedal assist was there for back-up if they were a little tired at the end of the day or if they had a heavy load or a massive hill or any combination of those things. I know that there are moms (and dads) who conquer hills and carry kids without a motor, but they're aren't a lot of them and that poses a big problem for utilitarian cycling.
The Japanese still run errands using bicycles instead of SUVs, its a generally closer urban environment, so the bicycles aren't completely a recreational purchase like in the US where less people use the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation. So a large basket up front, ease of riding for more elder consumers are important, and a mountain bike won't do.
Also, the 'hybrid' electric system is designed so that going up-and-down inclines are effortless for that 'housewife', its not designed for 'sport' but rather for functionality.
With my new perspective on e-bikes, I must say that I hope to see more like this--just prettier. I'd hate to lose any potential cyclists to the Vespa (not that I have anything against Vespas, but they don't exactly further the cause of better bike infrastructure).