By Clint Williams
Green Right Now

People going green are turning to gasoline-electric hybrid automobiles like the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight or any number of hybrids offered by General Motors for transportation. But folks really serious about saving gasoline and money will want to consider the latest alternatives to gasoline-electric hybrids: sweat-electric hybrids.

The latest generation of electric-hybrid bicycles is arriving at a bike shop near you. Major bicycle makers Giant and Schwinn (who can forget the Stingray?) have recently introduced cutting-edge hybrid bikes that seamlessly harness battery power and pedal power, making biking to work easy as the breeze in your hair.

The new offerings from the bike big boys promise to nudge so-called e-bikes from the eddy of the eccentric into the mainstream. E-Bike sales in the US are projected to hit 220,000 units in 2009, up 83 percent from 2007 sales, according to the Electric Bikes Worldwide Report, 2008 Update. In Europe, sales this year are expected to hit 750,000 – three times 2007 sales.

“We’re seeing huge growth,” says Pantea Mavaddat, marketing director of Currie Technologies, maker of the Izip line of hybrid bikes.

An e-bike isn’t an electric scooter. You still have to pedal to get somewhere. But the electric motor makes pedaling much easier; making uphill rides less daunting and flat roads effortless.

“It changes your psyche,” says Brown Loper, co-owner of an Atlanta-area bike shop and sole owner of a Giant Twist e-bike.

Loper’s commute to work is just a mile and a half, but it’s nearly all up hill.

“So, even me, on my other bike, I get to work and I’m puffing and feel like I need to take a shower,” Loper says.