Pedal-assist bikes are proving a popular choice for folks looking to get to work, do the weekly shop or just go for a leisurely ride. But most offer a fairly limited motor-assisted range and long wait times when charging up the batteries. France’s Pragma Mobility sees things differently, tapping into hydrogen fuel-cell technology for the Alpha Neo commuter.
Pragma Industries was founded by Pierre Forté and Rémi Succoja in 2004, and began shifting its focus from hydrogen fuel cell development to mobility solutions in 2017. Pragma Mobility was launched in 2020, and the company has built on lessons learned from the production of 300 first-generation hydrogen-fuel-cell ebikes for the design of the Alpha Neo.
The ebike’s aluminum frame features a low step-over to accommodate more riders, and benefits from a removable energy pack with built-in daylight-readable status screen. This hosts a small refillable tank that holds hydrogen under 300 bar of pressure to feed the onboard fuel cells, along with cooked-in electronics including supercapacitors.
Pragma is promising a two-minute top up from a H2 filling station, if you can find one, which is obviously a good deal quicker than having to plug in an ebike battery unit and wait for hours before you can ride again. The setup is robust too, and is expected to last for at least 15 years of regular use.
Much of the hydrogen available at such filling stations will currently be produced using coal or gas, but as more so-called green hydrogen projects tap into renewable energy the production map will start to look a whole lot cleaner. Pragma appears to have local or home-based green hydrogen production and supply as part of its future outlook.
As a reward for spending a couple of minutes topping up the tank, riders can look forward to more than 90 miles (150 km) of range. The rear wheel is home to a 250-W geared hub motor that peaks at 350-W, and the there are five levels of torque-sensing pedal-assist available up to 25 km/h (15.5 mph), in line with current European regulations.
The H2-powered commuter weighs in at 30 kg (66 lb) all-in and comes with a rear luggage rack included. It rolls on 27.5-inch wheels wrapped in 2-inch reinforced tires, comes to a stop with the help of hydraulic disc brakes, and features integrated LED lighting with ambient sensors to power on automatically. Completing the package is a wheel lock, full fenders front and back, and a double kickstand.
Read the most up to date Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Industry news at FuelCellsWorks
The Alpha Neo is currently up for pre-order for €5,690 (around US$6k), but Pragma is introducing a long-term leasing package for a starting price of €79 per month. The company is aiming to kick off production with a limited run of 200 models from June 2023, followed by 800 more by the year end. A fuel-cell electric delivery trike and scooter are also in the works.