Japanese electro-bikes will not outrun the Zeta, vows inventor

People & Business

There was potentially bad news for Sir Clive Sinclair yesterday when Honda and Yamaha announced plans for cheaper ranges of their electric bicycles. Sir Clive, you may remember, invented one of the earliest electrically powered bikes when he launched the Zeta in 1994. This is a power unit that, when attached to the back wheel of a bike, turns it into a mini- moped. Puffed-out cyclists flick a switch to get battery-powered assistance when climbing uphill.

Honda will launch a Racoon series of electro-bikes in Japan in February at prices starting at 79,500 (pounds 421). Yamaha is also getting in on the act with a lower-priced range in January.

Sir Clive remains unfazed, however. "I'm not in the slightest bit worried. Their products will probably be much more expensive than ours - too expensive for the volume market, I suspect. But they will give credibility to the marketplace."

Sir Clive says he has sold 15,000 Zetas so far, priced at a Honda-whipping pounds 145.

So pleased is he with sales that he hopes to increase the marketing spend next year. Hopefully things will go more smoothly than at one press test at the time of the launch. Then, a pre-production Zeta surprised its rider when it shot backwards and crashed into a bus shelter.

Sir Malcolm Field, the former chief executive of WH Smith who stepped down a year ago, has found an appropriate new berth. He has picked up a non-executive directorship at the Stationery Office, the old HMSO. Also signing up for duty is Sir Michael Partridge, the former permanent secretary of the Department of Social Security. Sir Malcolm, who presided over a calamitous profit warning at WH Smith last May, will at least find himself in familiar territory. The Stationery Office is also trying to rid itself of its old public sector ethos. And if anyone wants to know anything about manila envelopes and Basildon Bond writing paper then he must be the man.

Still on WH Smith, the newsagent group has found a new director of corporate affairs after an 18-month search which followed Kevin Hawkins' departure to Safeway. The new man is Tim Blythe, formerly of the financial PR firm, Brunswick.

A youthful-looking 41, Mr Blythe found the offer (and the money) too tempting after two and a half years' honest toil at Lincoln's Inn Fields. Previously he was head of corporate affairs at Dairy Crest and head of PR at NatWest Bank. "I always wanted a top job in-house. And my mother never let me do a paper round," he said.

Like a true Stakhanovite, he chose to take no time off between jobs. He cleared his desk at Brunswick on Friday and was installed at WH Smith's head office yesterday. Sadly the receptionist didn't seem to know this. "Sorry, we don't have him listed."

The Berkeley Playhouse, the Mayfair table-dancing club which is raising funds via the Enterprise Investment Scheme, has caused a flurry of cheque writing in the City. The group has already raised pounds 1.6m of its target pounds 2.1m, with new funds coming in at the rate of pounds 50,000 a day.

The largest investment has come from one gent who has put in pounds 100,000 (a definite lifetime free membership there).

Though the original deadline for applications for investors was 24 December, the operations director, Edward Sunley, says he has received several requests from City bankers and dealers asking him to extend the deadline until they get their Christmas bonuses. "We will probably oblige. It would be churlish not to."

A big row is brewing in the Cotswolds over who should be granted the honour of cutting the turf at the start of the long-awaited Broadway bypass. Michael Heseltine, no less, was drafted in by local Tory councillor John Cole. Councillor Cole was no sooner crowing about his coup than it all went horribly wrong.

The Labour-dominated council intervened, saying that Deputy Prime Minister though Mr Heseltine may be, he was not the man for a local job such as this. Councillor Cole is angry that his networking is going to waste. "I shall be quite upset if we don't get him here."

Suggested Topics
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star