We've seen some inventive attempts to blur the lines between bikes and cars over the years, through velomobiles and odd pod-shaped contraptions that gain assistance from motors tucked into the hubs and onto the cranks. The FitCar PPV remains much more automobile than bicycle, but does encourage physical exertion on part of its owners through an interesting pedaling system that hooks up to the drivetrain.
The FitCar PPV was created by Saudi-based inventor Nasser Al Shawaf and is based on a stock standard Audi A4 Avant, working just like a regular car. But instead of a typical throttle, the vehicle is fitted with a bike pedal mechanism that is mated to a flywheel.
As the driver pedals, that flywheel generates electronic pulses that engage the accelerator and propel the car forward. A dial on the pedals allows the user to set the degree of resistance and tune the difficulty of their workout to their liking. The brake pedal, meanwhile, has been replaced with an off-the-shelf push control, the type you'd find in motability vehicles.
Three settings further configure the FitCar PPV for different scenarios. "Drive Slow" is for crawling through for congestion, "Drive Fast" is for the highway and "No Drive" is for when the user is stationary but still fancies a workout, allowing them to pedal away without driving the car forward.
Al Shawaf bills the FitCar PPV as the world's first calorie-burning car, and found inspiration for it after being stuck in traffic during his 60-minute commutes every day.
"This is an unhealthy way to waste more than two hours every day," he says. "So, I came up with the idea of the FitCar PPV – which does exactly the same as any conventional car – getting us safely and comfortably from A to B, however in the FitCar PPV you can exercise while you drive."
The jury is out on whether the FitCar will be as safe as a conventional car as Al Shawaf says, though we can see a few reasons why it wouldn't be. In addition, it might look a bit odd the first few times you see a colleague hop out of their FitCar in the morning dripping with sweat.
In any case, Al Shawaf is pushing toward commercialization, having teamed up with Dutch engineering firm BPO and has already put together a second prototype. With a patent in hand, the pair is awaiting approval by the relevant authorities for use on the road in Europe, and hopes to one day have the technology adopted by a car manufacturer, or offer it as an after-market conversion kit.
"We are very pleased with our proof of concept, which has been trialled by many people in the Netherlands," says founder and managing director of BPO, Oscar Brocades Zaalberg. "There are several options to further develop and evolve the project. We could feasibly introduce regenerative braking, or different packaging so we can fold the pedals away and return to standard drive mode. We could also develop an App to go with the PPV to maximise calorie-burn, efficiency and to introduce different routes and challenges among a community of followers. All perfectly possible."
You can hear from Zaalberg in the video below, as well as see the FitCar PPV in action.
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