The Amish Horse-Drawn Buggy Is More Tech-Forward Than You Think

Despite what you heard, the Amish aren’t against technology. Communities adopt new gadgets such as fax machines and business-use cell phones all the time—so long as the local church approves each one ahead of time, determining that it won’t drastically change their way of life.

So it is with the Amish horse-drawn buggy. You might have thought the technology inside this 1800s method of transportation stopped progressing right around then. Instead, buggy tech keeps advancing, and buggy makers have become electricians and metalworkers to build in all the new tech you can’t see under the traditional black paint.

Read more at Popular Mechanics. Via Amish America.

Electrically Powered Bicycle Trailer & Hand Cart (DIY)

electric powered bike trailer

The German-made Carla Cargo is a three-wheeled cycle trailer with an electric assist motor. It can be pulled by any type of bicycle (including a cargo cycle or an electric bike), and it allows you to carry heavy (up to 150 kg) and bulky cargo (a loading platform of 60 x 160 cm). Uncoupled from the bicycle, the Carla Cargo works as a hand cart for large or heavy loads. The vehicle weighs 40 kg including the battery, and has a range of 40 to 60 km.

carla cargo bike trailerThe electric motor is built into the front wheel and can produce 250 watts as a trailer (up to 23 km/h), and 500 watts as a handtruck (up to 6 km/h). The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 11 or 15 Ah. The vehicle has two disk brakes and a parking brake, which are controlled via the handle or the bicycle handlebar.

The Carlo Cargo sells for about 4,000 euro. The construction manual is freely accessible online, but only in German for now. The trailer/handcart is present at the International Cargo Bike Festival, April 16-17, in Nijmegem, the Netherlands.

Previously: 8-wheeler cargo cycle.

A Trunk on Wheels

tripl elektric motor bike

Denmark’s Tripl electric motorbike has more cargo space than a Mercedes E-Class estate. The vehicle is aimed at goods delivery in large cities. Heated and refrigerated cargo boxes are available. Some specifications:

  • Cargo volume: 750 litres
  • Load capacity: 200 kg
  • Electric motor: 4 kW
  • Top speed: 45 km/h (28 mph)
  • Battery: 5.3 kWh / 6.7 kWh / 8 kWh
  • Charging time: 5.3 – 8 hours
  • Range: 70-100 km (with 8 kWh battery), 50-80 km (6.7 kWh battery), 30-60 km (5.3 kWh battery)
  • Weight excl. battery: 221 kg
  • Weight with 8 kWh battery: 301 kg
  • Length: 241 cm
  • Width: 127 cm
  • Height: 1170 cm
  • Wheelbase: 150 cm
  • Turning diameter: 7.5 m

The Case For Dangerous Roads and Low-tech Cars

car accident in poland wikipedia commons“The design of automobiles has tended toward insulation, offering an ever less involving driving experience. The animating ideal seems to be that the driver should be a disembodied observer, moving through a world of objects that present themselves as though on a screen.”

“We have throttle by wire, brake by wire, and electrical assist (versus hydraulic assist) brakes, as well as traction control and anti-lock brakes that modulate our driving inputs for us. What all this idiot-proofing and abstraction amounts to is a genuine poverty of information reaching the driver.”

“What’s more, the information that does get through is presented in a highly mediated way, conveyed by potentiometers and silky smooth servos rather than by the seat of your pants. It is therefore highly discreet, and does not reflect fuzzy, subtle variations. Nor is it sensitive to changes that haven’t been anticipated and coded for ahead of time, for example the vibration that might arise from a brake caliper bracket that has come loose or cracked. Perhaps most troubling, the electronic mode of presentation means that information about the state of the car and of the road is competing with information from other electronic devices that may be a lot more interesting.”

Read more: The Case for Dangerous Roads and Low-Tech Cars, Matthew B. Crawford. Picture credit.

How To Buy a Low-Tech Car

You might not guess it after strolling through a few dealerships, but cars and trucks with limited technology still can be found if you are willing to work at it. And there still are plenty of low-tech used vehicles: even some that haven’t yet been classified as classics. To find them, though, takes patience and willingness to compromise.

simple carThere has been huge growth in the number and complexity of electronics features on passenger vehicles, says Paul Green, a research professor at the University of Michigan. In tracking just one model, the Infiniti G, over a seven-year period, Green found that the total number of pages in this entry-level luxury car’s multiple owner’s manuals grew by an average of 30 a year.

That means the owner of a 2013 Infiniti G has to read the equivalent of a small novel to understand how to operate all the new features added since 2006.

Just as all cars are not alike, technology-averse car shoppers don’t all slip from the same mold. There are, of course, the traditional Luddites: people who believe technology diminishes humanity and want nothing to do with it. But there also are those who’d rather avoid complex technologies because they can’t, or won’t, take the time to learn how to use them. Some want to avoid technology that they see as increasing distraction because it requires drivers to look at information screens while operating the vehicle. Some are concerned about the trend toward cars with greater connectivity to the Web because of their potential for being hacked. And there are motoring purists who want nothing to come between them and the hands-on driving experience.

How to buy a low-tech car — car shopping tips for technophobes, a practical guide from automotive website Edmunds. Via WSJ.

A Scooter for Everyone

electric scooter johanson3

The Johanson3 is a stable three-wheeler, with the driver leaning back rather than sitting (though sitting is an option). Feet rest on a plate, and pressing down on that plate creates a lean on the front wheel, turning the vehicle while the rear wheels remain solidly on the ground.

That makes for easy on-and off, especially for those who – owing to age, injury, or fashion choice (“skirts, saris, djellabas, and kimonos” are accommodated, according to Johanson3) – cannot throw a leg over a bicycle seat. Various models accommodate single riders or as many as three adults plus two kids, and can haul up to 660lbs of flesh and cargo. Read more: The J3, a trike that hauls freight, spares frocks.

The Johanson3 is available for pre-order and costs $3,150 – $3,900.