Gannet Design founder Ulfert Janssen is one of the few automotive and transportation designers in the world who works in both the two- and four-wheeled domains. Stints at Samsung Motors in Korea, Nissan in Japan and a decade at Renault’s Barcelona studio involved in advanced concept design have given him a unique perspective on future transportation design.
As always, autos were the main focus of this year's Geneva Motor Show
, but a smaller category of vehicle made its presence felt. Electric bikes and scooters, such as the Kia Electric Bicycle
and Qoros eBIQE
, had a strong showing. A third interesting design we found in the halls of the Palexpo, the FEDDZ strikes a balance between electric cargo bike and motor scooter.
It's de rigueur for upmarket brands to have an e-bike in the stable these days, so it was no surprise that aspiring international brand Qoros
should show its eBIQE in Geneva last week. The big surprise was the cloud connectivity and a five inch touchscreen dashboard with an astonishing array of information services. Cheap? NO! Cool? YES!
Toyota’s electric i-Road three wheeler
is shaping up as the ideal combination of the best attributes of a motorcycle (maneuverability, lightweight, narrow track, small footprint, low energy consumption, fun) and a car (weather-proof, safe, stable, easy to use) and trials have now begun in Japan using the i-Road in Toyota’s Ha:mo (Harmonious Mobility) vehicle-sharing project. The i-Road trials will be extended to France later this year when Toyota participates in a vehicle-sharing trial in Grenoble.
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.
Pedal-assist electric bikes come in all shapes
, and are made from a range of materials including aluminum
. Armin Oberhollenzer's material of choice is carbon fiber and, though his Leaos 2.0 Carbon City Design e-bike has been making appearances at bike shows throughout Europe since last year, it's now set to land on US soil.
Although electric bikes definitely are
more eco-friendly than exhaust-spewing cars, some people quite rightly point out that the electricity used to charge their batteries typically comes from not-so-green sources such as coal-burning power plants. That's why Santa Cruz-based NTS Works created its NTS SunCycle pedelec cargo bike. Unveiled this Wednesday, it features an integrated photovoltaic panel that's reportedly capable of fully charging the bike's battery within eight hours.
One of the main advantages that e-bikes have over electric scooters is the fact that you can choose to propel them by human power only, reserving motor power for those times when you really need it. However, if that bike weighs 40 or 50 pounds or so (18 to 23 kg), then you probably won't want
to "pedal only" it much. While some significantly lighter models do exist, their prices can range up to several thousand bucks. That's where the Riide e-bike comes in. It weighs 35 lb (16 kg), and has a planned price of US$1,799.
Like the electric car, e-bikes continue to evolve and change as newer technologies and materials become available. But for some designers, the best formula resides not in the future, but in the past. For Derringer Cycles, 1920s board-track racers are the inspiration behind its new electric bikes.
Back in 2009, MIT's SENSEable City team unveiled its Copenhagen Wheel
prototype. In a nutshell, it's a self-contained electrically-powered rear bicycle wheel that can be installed on any regular bike, instantly turning it into an e-bike. Today, it was announced that a commercial version of the Copenhagen Wheel is now available to consumers.