Originally published on Gas 2.
By Zachary Coffey.
Getting back to the basics, Kia is showing off two new electric bike prototypes built with an innovative new manufacturing process that harkens back to its days as a bicycle builder.
Back in 1944, Kia (known then as Kyungsung Precision Industries) was a burgeoning manufacturer of bicycle parts and steel tubing. During the next three decades they would grow their facilities to build finished bicycles then motorcycles, cars, and trucks. Things have certainly come a long way since 1974.
The two “pedelec” prototypes, named the KEB City and KEB Mountain Bike, were introduced at the Geneva Auto Show accompanying the Soul EV, Kia’s first globally-available electric vehicle. Both versions can be powered by either human might or the 250-watt electric motor coupled to a removable 36 volt/10 amp lithium-ion battery. With both models weighing in at around 44 lb and topping out at 15.5 mph, the KEB’s are capable of a 25 mile range on a 4 hour charge.
Kia is also using these bikes to show off its new manufacturing process. Pairing a new metal stamping technology with their robotic welding process will allow additional flexibility in metal choices, as well as a higher level of control while lowering the overall cost of production. As an additional bonus, the new process will also allow for a greater level of design detail.
While there is no guarantee when or if production will begin, these methods have been developed exclusively, at the moment, for the KEB’s frame, which puts the production of these “pedelec” bikes into the more-than-likely category.
As the price of gas continues to rise and our carbon emissions become increasingly concerning, these bikes may help provide a nice sunny day alternative to traditional transportation, and could one day dominate our roads.