Big name car companies like Audi, Smart, BMW, Volkswagen, and Ford (to name a few) have recently stepped into the electric bicycle market. Whether it’s to prove their design capabilities or meet the demand for sustainable transportation, the electric market will continue to see innovative product launches.
Still in its prototype phase, the Audi Worthersee is bicycle powered by a lithium-ion battery. The company describes it as a high-end pedelec that is made for “sport, fun, and tricks.” The design is very sleek and futuristic, paralleling Audi’s cars performance and speed. This e-bike is extremely light, with the frame weighing only 3.53 pounds and wheels that weigh only 1.32 pounds each. All together, with the motor and battery, the bike weighs 46 pounds. Practicality and meeting the federal definition of a bicycle were not necessarily in Audi’s design, but you have to admit, being able to top 50 miles per hour on this machine would be pretty cool.
Photo credit: Gadget Freak
Smart, owned by the electric car company Daimler, has entered the electric bike business with a more practical design. The rider can decide how much power he or she wants to deliver and can be used in combination with pedaling. The lithium-ion battery can be charged through a normal power outlet or with regenerative power while riding. The wheel hub motor acts as a generator when the rider brakes, making this an economically and financially advantageous product.
Photo credit: Gizmag
A sponsor of the 2012 Olympics, BMW received some major publicity for their new, folding pedelec. Two hundred of these bikes were made to transport athletes and workers around the Olympic Games this year in London. Folding electric bikes with small wheels (16 inches) are very practical for commuting and can be stowed almost anywhere. This model can travel up to 16 miles per hour and has a 16-25 mile range.
Photo credit: Smart Planet
The Volkswagen Bik.e is a full-fledged electric bike, proof by its lack of pedals. Also a folding bike, it will fit in the spare wheel well in the back of your car, like a commuter sidekick. The Bik.e can recharge using the electrical system of the car as you drive and has slightly less get-up-and-go compared to BMW and Audi, with only a 12.5 mile range and a top speed of 12.5 miles per hour.
Photo credit: Wired
Unveiled at the German Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011, this electric bike was designed to appeal to both men and women. The drive system, lithium-ion battery, and motor hidden in the front wheel hub combine for a boastful 52 mile range. A display mounted on the handlebar provides the rider with trip information and three modes of transportation: economy, comfort, and sport. Ford has not yet set plans to produce this electric bike, but will stay in-the-know by continuing to develop concepts and study transportation solutions.
Photo credit: Clean MPG