With German Automobile manufacturers Audi and Smart announcing new electric bikes to the market this year, BMW has just unveiled a prototype named the “i Pedelec” which is potentially a serious contender in the electric bike market, despite its non-intimidating demeanor. 2012 has been a year of amazing new electric bike announcements (see our story here on future E-bikes announced this year). The BMW i-pedelec is a practical folding E-bike, that when folded can conveniently stow in the trunk of the tiny i3 BMW electric concept car (pictured). Germans have been leading the world in innovative electric bike products in the last few years (read how Germans dominated ebike porn here)
Folding electric bikes with their short wheel base are super practical and fun as commuting devices. BMW announced that they are making 200 of these bikes to be used to shuttle around organizers and athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, which BMW is a major sponsor of. Undoubtedly the little electric bikes will make a big impact on the image of BMW as well as the image of electric bikes in the rare world stage that is the Olympics.
The BMW electric bike features some impressive features, including a 3 speed hub motor (huge innovation in the electric bike industry), belt drive, a torque sensing pedelec computer drive unit, and hydraulic front and rear brakes. The bike is constructed of high tech carbon fiber and aluminum. It can go 16-MPH and has a 16-25 mile range. The pack provided is a 48 volt lithium manganese pack with 7-Ah of capacity. With these kind of features in a brand like BMW do not expect this E-bike to be cheap….estimate at least $3000.
It’s interesting to see that these 3 German car manufacturers have 3 entirely different takes on what the perfect electric bike should be. While both Smart and BMW decided to couple their bikes with an electric car, the Audi Bike is matched to no car, and if it were, it would be the Sexy Audi R1… The BMW electric bike is better interfaced with its electric car in that you can fit two in them in the trunk of the car and it has custom attachments so that the bike does not wobble or rattle around. The Smart bike has to be mounted via car rack on the back which is kind of sloppy and add-on-ish. The BMW bike is so small it could be taken along in the back of the i3 with no thought or planning, or even stored semi-permanently in the trunk, and brought out as needed.
The BMW electric bike is meant to carry urban i3 customers the “last mile” from a public charging point to their workplace or home. Undoubtedly the electric bike will also be a great emergency bail-out in case the electric car runs out of juice between charge stations. This pedelec bike is designed so one can latch behind each seat of the BMW i3, and when properly stowed, the bikes battery can be charged from the cars power. The electric bike folds and can be dollied around conveniently on one wheel with one hand, so you can easily roll it into the building with you and stow it in a small place.
We will add to this story as more information comes in.