Audi, the company that brought you hybrid-diesel racecars, has an intriguing two-wheel concept vehicle: an ultra-light carbon fiber electric bicycle that has WiFi built in, can hit 50 mph, and even has a Segway-like mode that lets it run on just its back wheel (apparently clever computers and gyroscopes will keep you balanced).
Audi unveiled it at the 2012 Wörthersee Tour in Austria — and the e-bike itself is also called Wörthersee (which happens to be a beautiful lake in Austria). The carbon fiber frame weighs just 3.53 pounds (1.6kg) — but with a 2.3kW electric motor and lithium ion battery the bike’s total weight is 24lbs (11kg). It’s pegged as a high-performance bike for trick cycling, including the ability to ride on its back wheel alone in two of the five modes: Pure, Pedelec, eGrip, Power Wheelie, and Balanced Wheelie.
Audi says the e-bike travels up to 31 mph on the electric motor, and up to 51 mph when the rider pedals as well. The battery can be charged in 2.5 hours or quickly swapped. It’s also outfitted with WiFi and a smartphone that provides electronic controls for the bike as well as unlocking the bike — so someone else doesn’t use your bike to pop their wheelies. Price and availability? Be patient, says Audi, all in good time.
Many automakers also sell performance bikes as lifestyle accessories, but nothing like Audi’s e-bike. BMW i Ventures, the New York City-based venture fund for mobility related investments, is providing seed money for a more mainstream electric bicycle that would be light and foldable. Drive to the train station in the suburbs, carry the bike on board, get to your destination city, unfold the bike, and motor electrically to your office a mile or two away.