General Motors Moves More Deeply into E-Mobility
With the Volt plug-in hybrid and the Bolt EV already in Chevy showrooms, what’s next for GM on the electric vehicle front? How about an electric bicycle?
GM just released photos of two lightweight eBikes, due out next year. Clean and simple looking, they come in two forms. One folds, with an integrated handle for easy carrying. These could be the solution for getting the last mile from the train station to work or home, or for running local errands. Surely, they’d fit easily in the back of either of Chevy’s EVs.
Hannah Parish, director of General Motors Urban Mobility Solutions, the organization charged with the project, comes well prepared for the job. She formerly was Marketing Director, North America, for Cycling Sports Group, owner of Cannondale, Schwinn and GT.
“As an avid cyclist and urban commuter, I know how great it feels to get where I’m going easily and show up sweat-free,” Parish said. “We blended electrification engineering know-how, design talents and automotive-grade testing with great minds from the bike industry to create our eBikes.”
Name the Bike
In a clever twist, GM is asking people to name the eBike brand. Send in your name ideas to www.eBikeBrandChallenge.com by 10 a.m. EST on Monday, November 26. The winner receives $10,000 and nine runners-up will take home $1,000 each. Winners will be announced in early 2019. I wonder if they’ll get a free eBike, too?
The new eBikes use a mid-drive motor with a traditional chain drive over a toothed belt and employ front and rear hydraulic disc brakes. The battery is mounted just above the motor, which should provide a low center of gravity.
There’s little in the way of specs yet, so we don’t yet know how fast it’ll go, or how long a charge will take or last. GM hasn’t released any pricing or availability dates yet, either. In fact, we don’t even know where—or how—the bikes will be sold.
What’s old is new again—GM has some origins in the two-wheeled world. Some of GM’s earliest automotive brands began as bicycle companies in the 1890s. In 1908, General Motors absorbed the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company, which was founded as a bicycle maker in 1897. It later became GMC. Louis Chevrolet, co-founder of the brand that carries his name, was a champion bicycle racer in France.
Next year, the most affordable GM electric vehicle will hit the streets. I’m looking forward to giving it a test and writing a review. Now where’s my helmet?
Ford’s Already Got Bikes on the Road
While the GM eBike is a clever approach to the market, it’s hardly the first foray for automakers into electric two-wheelers–or two-wheelers in general. Ford’s shared eBikes launched earlier this year (2018) in San Francisco and the blue bikes can be found all over the city.
It should also be noted that a variety of car companies offer on- and off-road bikes, manual and electric, from Daimler’s Smart to Lamborghini. But these bikes are typically at a premium level and not really related to their core auto business. GM and Ford appear to be trying to carve out a different niche for ebikes as a part of a broader mobility system. Hold on, because we doubt this will be the last word in this arena.