Dual-motor velomobile gets unchained
Velomobiles usually take the form of a recumbent tricycle enclosed by a streamlined body, that might have a motor to augment the rider's pedalling power. The Podbike, however, is a little different. It has four wheels, two motors … and no chain.
Being developed by Norwegian firm Elpedal, the Podbike does have pedals, but they're linked directly to a generator. As the rider pedals, the power that they generate is electrically transferred to a couple of hub motors – one in each of the rear wheels. A removable battery pack adds some additional power, making an electronically-limited top speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) possible.
The battery range is an estimated 60 km (37 miles), although additional packs can be added in parallel to increase that figure. That said, adding more batteries will increase the weight, which is aimed at being in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 kg (88 to 110 lb) with a single battery.
Currently, the Podbike exists as a rolling chassis prototype. The finished product will also include a full thermoplastic canopy for better aerodynamics and weather protection, along with a complete LED lighting system, and will be able to seat one adult plus a child (or some other cargo) in the back. It should even be possible to tip the vehicle up on its rear end, so it takes up less space when parking.
Plans call for the first complete test units to be ready early next year, with a Norwegian launch taking place in early 2019, and a European launch scheduled for 2020. Pricing is estimated at NOK 50,000 (about US$6,143) in Norway – including VAT and local sales tax –and €4,600 ($5,361) plus tax and shipping in other European markets.
Unfortunately for prospective buyers in the US, American legislation limits e-bikes to having no more than three wheels. This means that a North American version of the Podbike would either have to be purely human-powered (which would be quite a slog), or be made with three wheels. The latter option doesn't appeal to the designers, as they believe that four wheels greatly increase stability, and make the vehicle more practical.