KIA shows two electric bikes and a new manufacturing process


March 4, 2014

The KEB City has a step-through frame, rear-mounted battery, 28-inch wheels and mud-flaps

The KEB City has a step-through frame, rear-mounted battery, 28-inch wheels and mud-flaps

Image Gallery (2 images)

South Korean automotive manufacturer Kia looks set to return to its bicycle-manufacturing roots with the showing of two prototype electric bikes at the Geneva Motor Show. Already given a brand name – Kia Electric Bicycle (KEB) – both prototypes are of the "pedelec" variety, meaning they can be pedaled and powered electrically, with one a "City" and the other a Mountain Bike (MTB).

Kia's beginnings in 1944 were as a bicycle producer and it went on to become Korea's first mass producer of bicycles before growing into one of the world's largest automotive manufacturers. Fittingly, the two prototype KEBs were displayed alongside the company's first globally-available electric vehicle – the Soul EV. Also worth noting is that KEB's bikes will, should production be sanctioned, be manufactured in an innovative fashion.

The bikes originated from Kia’s Namyang Research & Development Centre in Korea, and use a monocoque metal frame that is manufactured by combining an advanced metal stamping technology and a robotic automated welding process.

Kia's new metal stamping technology is a production method specifically developed at the Namyang R&D; Centre for manufacturing the KEB’s frame, an indication that production is inevitable. After pressing a metal sheet for each half of the frame, the two are welded together by an automated robotic welding process.

Kia claims a number of significant advantages for the robotic manufacturing process, including a greater choice of metals (metal stamping will allow the frame to be made from aluminum, high-tensile steel or stainless steel), "automotive standard" quality control, a less complex and cheaper manufacturing process, a greater degree of design freedom, and an array of surfacing details that can be added during the pressing of the metal frame.

Both models use the same drivetrain and power pack – a 250 watt hub motor and a 36 volt, 10 amp lithium-ion polymer battery pack which can be removed for charging, and recharged inside four hours from a domestic powerpoint.

Both also weigh around 20 kg (44 lb), have a top speed of 25 kph (15.5 mph), a 40 km (25 mile) range and brake and gear componentry from Shimano.

Source: Kia UK


I'd imagine there to be weight advantages too...

Unfortunately, I think they'd be technically illegal in the UK - if I remember right (and assuming the rules haven't changed recently), we're limited to 200W (for a 2-wheeler, 250W for a trike), and must not be able to exceed 15mph; so 250W and 15.5mph would be --- debatable. A lot would depend, of course, on how strictly (or pettily?) the police and/or Highways Agency would want to enforce those rules (assuming they still hold true) of course, but I wouldn't look forward to being a potential test-case...

Still, it's good to see that electric bikes are coming along - we just need a way to encourage our government to update the rules.


Leafy, I wonder why an electric bike has limited top speed which can be surpassed by a purely pedal driven one.

On my side of the pond in the US the government appears to support electric vehicles but in truth resists all change. Lobbyists ride the government at every turn to stop sale of electric vehicles. Tesla autos has faced an onslaught from every direction and their product is quite superior in every way. Jim Sadler

Let me guess priced more than a Zero ev motorcycle

Leonard Foster

Yes, indeed there is a very dirty political game going on by power- and automotive industries lobbyists sitting together in the same boat of power misuse not really serving life, but to keep hands on the energy and mobility markets beyond any serious reason other than money.

All EV's only make sense if we can produce enough CO2-free energy and are not depending on actual power grids. Instead of few big providers, we need much more independent energy producers e.g. at small and medium company levels (and not so on private housing), where there are surfaces for solar or even smaller than present windparks and water power plants solutions. Even small pyrolysis energy systems, piezo electric set ups and compressed air solutions are not promoted to any serious extent but proven to be reliable for more than 30 years now! So we already lost many chances to change anything!

Of course that some few safety rules for any EV's are necessary also in regard of quality requirements; often not matched by Far East stuff. But the EU is also playing power games to keep new actors from the markets because among all thousands of papers regarding classification even experts do not know the right way e.g. to homologate (CoC/EU-Homologation) such products properly and so there are many "exceptions" for the big players in the markets all going different ways.

Not so for the pioneers and smaller companies. So is now such a vehicle at 200 W, 250 W or even more? top speed? brakes? signals? two or three wheels? etc. Is it as it should be in EU vehicle classification (ALL MOTOR driven vehicles shall go into that classification systems) L1e etc.

The whole bunch of rules is really shitty stuff for saving jobs to lawyers with plenty of time to seek for all rules to be applied only for bicycles. But don't try for any other vehicles not yet common or even known, e.g. Segway like, kickboard scooter etc. But, wait until BOSCH and other big players have all definition together for their own products. You certainly will see EU-regulations very shortly...

So what is the way out of that mess?

Roger Jean Zamofing

If EVERYBODY LOBBIED their representatives over 6 months or so, direct email, registered (sign for) mailings, phone calls etc., they may begin to listen and get their acts together! Bang (figuratively) on their doors and make them listen! Tell them we are getting tired of lies, failings to act decisively and failing to pass any sort of logical electric anything legislation. Sooneror later, the potential loss of votes may sink in to their blinkered little minds!

The Skud
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