- Carmakers are investing in electric portable mobility transportation by creating either concepts or full-blown new products, including e-bikes and e-scooters, at an increasing pace.
- While concept micro-mobility ideas like Volkswagen’s scooters have an uncertain path to production, others, such as Peugeot, already sell a full line of products – and have for years.
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Carmakers are increasingly looking towards new ways to move people around, including tapping into the rising trends of e-bikes and e-scooters.
Audi announced on Monday the development of its e-tron Scooters, almost a year after announcing its fully electric e-tron SUV. Other carmakers, like BMW and Ford, have already been exploring the electric personal micro-mobility market through collaborating with established players.
It’s no surprise carmakers are looking towards the booming e-mobility market. E-scooter company Bird reached a $US2 billion valuation in under a year of operation in 2018, according to Inc. Similarly, one of Bird’s largest competitors, Lime, has a $US2.4 billion valuation, the company announced in February.
Ridesharing companies such as Uber have also been exploring the space. Their e-bike share subsidiary, Jump, has already launched in several cities, including Providence, Rhode Island and Sacramento, California. Lyft also has a stake in the electric bike ridesharing community, although the San Francisco program was recently halted after two bikes caught on fire.
Whether it’s electric scooters or bikes, here are all the car companies making moves into creating electric micro-mobility products.
Ford Super Cruiser
The Ford Super Cruiser is the American carmaker’s official electric bike.
The $US3,695 bike has a 48-volt battery that powers its 500-watt motor. It can reach top speeds of 20 mph and weighs 60 pounds, according to electric bike maker Pedego, which partnered with Ford to create the bike. The lithium-ion battery takes 5 hours to charge and has a range of 15-30 miles with its smaller capacity battery, according to the Electric Bike Review.
Unlike many other electric bikes, the Super Cruiser has a twist throttle drive with no pedal assist. There is also no LCD display that could otherwise show information such as battery life or speed.
Audi e-tron Scooter
Audi has developed its own electric scooter. The announcement came in August, almost a year after the automaker announced its first electric SUV.
Despite its name, the e-tron scooter is more of a cross between a skateboard and a scooter than a traditional electric scooter. Although it has handlebars, the bar is meant to be held with only one hand. Riders position their bodies sideways, similar to riding a skateboard or snowboard.
The foldable, 26-pound scooter will have a range of 12.5 miles. Audi says it is considering selling it as an extra for customers who buy the Audi e-tron SUV, as the e-scooter can be charged in the car’s trunk through a dedicated socket. Audi is also exploring the possibility of deploying the e-tron Scooter in fleets.
The scooter is set to arrive in late-2020 and will cost around 2,000 euros, or about $US2,240.
Volkswagen’s Streetmate and Cityskater concept scooters
Volkswagen debuted two concept electric scooters at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show in March.
The first is the Streetmate, which is a medium-range device designed as a cross between a bicycle and a kick scooter. The 2.7 horsepower motor allows the 143-pound scooter to reach 28 mph, and the 1.3 kWh battery can be recharged in a little over two hours and gives the scooter a range of 21 miles.
The scooter has a Bluetooth option that allows riders to link their smartphone to the scooter to use as a digital key, security alarm, and GPS. There’s also a weatherproof screen attached to the scooter that displays information such as the battery and speed levels.
The second Volkswagen scooter is the Cityskater, which is meant for last-mile trips. This foldable scooter has two front wheels and one rear wheel. The Cityskater is powered by a 0.5 horsepower motor that can reach top speeds of 12 mph. It also has a 0.2 kWh battery that gives it a nine-mile range and takes less than an hour to charge to 50 per cent full.
The two vehicles remain just concepts, for now.
BMW is collaborating with urban mobility products maker Micro Mobility Systems to launch an e-scooter in September that will be fitted with a 150-watt motor, the company announced in May.
The BMW E-Scooter can hit speeds of 12 mph and has a range of 7.5 miles after a two-hour full charge. The 19.8-pound scooter can also be triple-folded with a locking mechanism for easier manoeuvring and storage. The e-scooter will retail for around €799, or $US896.
General Motors ARĪV Meld and Merge
General Motors announced in February a new line of e-bikes called ARĪV. The line includes the ARĪV Meld, a compact e-bike, and the ARĪV Merge, a folding e-bike. The Merge can be both folded and wheeled for easy handling when not in use.
The “ARĪV” name was developed after GM started a crowdsourcing campaign to name the bike.
The pedal-assisted bikes can reach speeds of 15 mph and have a maximum range of 40 miles after a full 3 hour and 30-minute charge of the 250-watt battery.
The bikes can be Bluetooth connected to the ARĪV app so riders can view bike information like speed, distance, battery level. They also come with front and rear LED lights and a smartphone mount with an integrated USB port so riders can also charge their phone on the go.
Unlike other traditional e-bikes, the ARĪV bikes have a “walk mode” that engages the motor of the e-bike to make for an easier walk up steep terrains.
The bikes are now available in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. In Belgium and the Netherlands, the Meld has an MSRP of 2,800 euros ($US3,135.40), and the Merge 3,400 euros ($US3,807.27). Prices will be different in Germany, with the Meld retailing for 2,750 euros ($US3,079.41) and Merge for 3,350 euros ($US3,751.28).
No word on arrival in the US.
Peugeot eLC01 e-bike
French carmaker Peugeot was creating bicycles long before it was making cars – as far back as the 19th century. After going through periods of licensing out the brand to other manufacturers, the company brought it back in-house in 2010, according to the brand’s website.
Since then, the company has developed a whole line of e-bikes.
The eLC01, for example, is designed for city bikers with an aluminium frame and a range of 18.6 to 43.5 miles. The nearly 50-pound bike is powered by a 400-watt battery and comes with integrated lights and an LED display.
The eLC01 also comes with an aluminium luggage rack that riders can attach a basket, baby seat, or bags to, as well as a USB port.
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