Hero's new model designs at Indian Auto Expo included a host of offerings, including the production ready HX 250R as well as the 620cc Hastur prototype and diesel-powered RNT. But the Indian manufacturer also revealed some interesting electric-hybrids like the pre-production Leap scooter and the futuristic electric-fuel cell-powered iON
The second hybrid offering from Hero is its Leap scooter. The Leap follows up from its original debut at the 2012 Auto Expo, where it was the first showcase for EBR’s engineering and design input in a Hero product. This latest Leap is a pre-production version and sources an electric/gasoline powertrain.
A permanent magnet AC electric motor powers the new Leap via lithium-ion batteries. The motor delivers a claimed 44 lb-ft of immediate torque to the rear wheel through a toothed belt final drive. The belt drive connects directly to the motor output shaft at the swingarm pivot, and there is no multi-gear transmission.
The batteries can be charged via wall plug-in, but the novel feature on the Leap is its “range extender” – a conventional 124cc fuel-injected Single that burns fuel from a 0.8-gallon tank to power the Leap’s on-board generator. No specifics on total range are made, though Hero does state the range extender “gives it four times the range of batteries alone.” Hero lists a 100 kmph (62 mph) top speed for the Leap with the range extender in use. The Leap also captures some energy for the batteries via regenerative braking.
The Hero Leap is a pre-production version of the electric scooter, with the battery power supplemented by a range extending 124cc Single in the hybrid design.
Curb weight is listed at 308.6 pounds, with the chassis comprised of a steel tubular frame. Running gear appears to utilize traditional scooter componentry. The braking package includes dual disc, a single front and rear – with the 240mm front rotor pinched by a two-piston Brembo caliper.
The scooter sports some modern styling lines, with one of the most noticeable features being its LED lighting package. No definitive word on the Leap’s production or possible export plans.
Hero Leap Scooter Specifications
Motor: Permanent magnet AC 8kW motor
Engine: 124cc Single
Batteries: Lithium-ion batteries and with an on-board generator powered by the 124cc engine.
Transmission: Belt drive, direct from motor to rear wheel
Front Suspension: Telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers
Rear Suspension: Unit wwing with spring loaded hydraulic dampers
Front Brakes: 240mm disc two-piston Brembo caliper
Rear Brakes: 130mm disc
Front Wheel/Tire: 13 x 2.5 alloy wheel, 110/70 tire
Rear Wheel/Tire: 11 x 3.5 alloy wheel, 120/70 tire
Wheelbase: 53 inches (1347mm)
Curb Weight: 308.6 pounds (140 kg)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 0.8 gallons (3 Liters)
HERO iON CONCEPT
The last Hero model featured in this post (the company also debuted several conventional scooter models and a café-racer version of one of its existing motorcycle models) is a pure concept model in the fuel cell/electric-powered iON.
Hero’s own literature best describes the ambitious-looking design and its concept-model pretentions: “This work is in the domain of potential innovations that are very challenging but lead to discoveries that have immense possibilities for future and learning for present. The ‘iON’ gives us an exciting glimpse of many years into the future, and demonstrates Hero's beliefs and commitment to the endless road of motorcycling and personal transport. “
The iON would drive forward with its “hub-less electric traction motor wheels.” The basic theory has been incorporated into a number of electric concepts, with the electromagnetic force controlling acceleration and braking power.
The futurist eye-candy wheel/motor configuration will conceptually source its power from Lithium-Air batteries. Hero states the Lithium-air battery has “the lightest and highest energy density battery ever produced” with an “energy storage density of 12 kWh/kg (comparable to gasoline).” The Hero iON PR literature elaborates further, stating: “Technology uses oxidation of Lithium with Oxygen molecules in the air and a revolutionary new cathode that uses Carbon Nano tubes infused with a Platinum and Rhodium catalyst using a genetically modified process which creates extremely high surface area per unit volume.”
Upping the alternative energy factor even further, the Li-air batteries would be supplemented by a hydrogen fuel cell range extender. The iON’s fuel cell would appear to function similar to the 124cc Single on the Leap electric scooter, extending range by charging the batteries.
The remaining iON features swerve into the truly conceptual: handle grip finger controls, electronic sensors factoring in traffic signals and vehicle collision detection, M-Link electromagnetic suspension damping, Flex Axis Steering that maintains steering stability through all the electronic sensors… It’s a lot of engineering for futurists to salivate over.
While the iON is a bike design that will likely never evolve far beyond concept status, it is an impressive play of bike show posturing from Hero. The iON looks exactly like a concept model from the Tokyo Motor Show, which routinely showcases fuel-cell/electric-powered engineering displays from the Big Four. It’s another statement from the Indian giant that it intends to compete on the global stage – and not just as a bit player.
Hero Ion Concept Specifications:
Power: Electric wheel rim motors with hydrogen fuel cell range extender
Batteries: Lithium-air battery pack
Suspension: Electro-magnetic with anthropomorphic linkage and road vision controlled damping response
Wheel Type: Integrated electric traction motor, hubless
Wheel/Tire Size Front and Rear: 17-inch/110-70 R17 and 17-inch/ 175-80 R17
Brakes: Electronically controlled regenerative with ABS and collision avoidance
Range: 186 miles (300 km)
Top Speed: 99.4 mph (160 kmph)
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 5 seconds
Seat Height: 31.5 inch (801mm)
Wheelbase: 54.6 inch (1388mm)
Curb Weight: 220.5 pounds (100 kg)
* Special thanks for Faisal Khan and Indian motor site, MotorBeam.com, for the photo support.