Yes, we know it's not really a bike. But the Nowergian Podbike is certainly an interesting development. We've seen some movement in the electric personal transport space over the last year or two: vehicles that are more than a bike, but still pedal-based. There's the Schaeffler Bio Hybrid, for one, and the Iris e-trike for another. The Podbike hails from Norway, and is another solution to urban transport that's lighter and more efficient than a car.
"Traditional bicycles have been available for over a hundred years but lack weather protection and high speed capability and offer zero crash protection", says Podbike. "Electric assisted bicycles, or pedelecs, remove the burden from pedalling up steep hills or in strong headwind. But they do not remedy the problem of lack of weather protection, nor do they offer any crash protection. Streamlined velomobiles, cycles with a streamlined body, are much faster, have at least some weather and crash protection but lack the ‘creature comfort’ a modern car offers. The PODBIKE® improves the velomobile by reducing the gap between cars and human powered vehicles while maintaining sustainability by various means."
The Podbike transmission complies with EU pedelec standards (there'll be a more powerful version too) and the company says that it'll be easy to pedal without power as well: the aerodynamic drag is similar to a racing bike. The weight isn't though, at 55-65kg. Podbike claim a range of 60km on one charge, but they plan to use a modular battery system so that you can increase the range if you need to do longer trips. Have a look at the vid below for some of the other features: the bike sits up to make entry and exit easier, and you can park it on its end to save space.
The Podbike is designed to seat one, but there's also space behind the rider which can be used as luggage space or for a child seat. There are "Protective zones to absorb and distribute impact energy in case of collision", says Podbike. You can't build masses of protection into a vehicle that's designed to be small and light, but it's probably better than nothing. The chassis is aluminium and the body thermoplastic, and Podbike say they'll use an "IKEA-style" distribution model where you have to do some of the work yourself, though we're guessing it'll be a fairly long way from flat-packed.
Podbike are aiming for launch in Norway at the end of the year, and from there moving into the rest of Europe. The price will be around €4,500.