Giant to produce Fords market building e-bikes - BikeBiz

Giant to produce Fords market building e-bikes

Yesterday at the Detroit Motor Show, Ford unveiled a family-sized electric car for sale by 2003. The US car maker also introduced two electric bikes, one a folder, both available for sale via the internet by the summer...
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This is good news, says Eric Kuhlwilm of the Electric Vehicle Network. It will open up the whole market.

James Reid of Yamaha agreed: The more people involved in the electric vehicle market, the better. We need to create the market, Yamaha cant do it on its own. A big player like Ford could really shake things up.

The two Ford bikes will retail in the US for $1000 and $1200 ie at around the magic sub-£500 point. Both bikes will be produced by Giant of Taiwan but will be branded Th!nk, a Ford offshoot.

Th!nk was originally the brand name of PIVCO, a Norwegian Electric Vehicle (EV) manufacturer but, after financial problems, it was bought out by Ford this time last year.

EVs are much in vogue in America thanks to stringent anti-pollution laws in states such as California. Former General Motors CEO Lee Iococca launched his own EV company three years ago and Ford have been dabbling in the market since 1993.

Ford's introduction of electric bikes, however, has taken the industry by surprise. There was a little bit of news about the launch on Ford's US website (www.ford.com), a bit more on a key electric vehicle magazines site (www.evworld.com) but we struck gold when we accessed the official Th!nk website (www.thinkmobility.com). The full text of Th!nks press release which includes bike specs is carried below.

Giant are reported to be gearing up to produce 30 000 Th!nk e-bikes this year which from June will mainly be sold via www.thinkmobility.com and through Fords existing car showrooms in the US. A worldwide roll-out for Th!nk has yet to be announced and whether IBDs will see a piece of the action is also an unknown.

Th!nk e-bikes are powered by lead acid batteries 20th century technology, many would no doubt say, because the service life of lead-acid is half to one-third that of NiMH and Lithium Ion but the Th!nk release says the company is already working on much more revolutionary e-bikes:

Also displayed for the first time at the 2000 North American International Auto Show was the TH!NK bike Concept, a design exercise that explores new ideas in design, construction and materials. It is built with lightweight metal alloys and composite materials that are strong, yet durable. TH!NK bike Concept stretches the envelope of possibilities, and provides a vision of bicycle design for the future.

So, is this the start of the big time for e-bikes? Could they be the next big thing? With pricepoints for ever creeping down (Powabykes retail for about £600 with the Yamaha XP26 now £699 instead of last years £899) sales will definitely creep up.

The biggest effect the Ford news will have on e-bikes in Europe isnt so much the actual sales they generate its the market credibility the car brand brings with it.

As it is, the Th!nk bikes probably couldnt be marketed in Europe as they are; US legislation regarding electric bikes is far more lenient than EU regs.

However, the news from Detroit means e-bikes have truly arrived. Whether they get anywhere in Europe depends on a loosening of EU regs (something the ACT and ETRA are lobbying for) and a large number of consumers willing to buy low-powered bicycles rather than higher-powered, faster mopeds.


Heres the Th!nk press release, available at www.thinkmobility.com

TH!NK BIKE fun and TH!NK BIKE traveler -- FUN AND MOBILITY AT A FLICK OF THE WRIST

DETROIT, Mi., January 10, 2000 - Fun, freewheeling transportation is just a flick of the wrist away with two new electric bikes from TH!NK Mobility, an enterprise of Ford Motor Company.

TH!NK bike fun and TH!NK bike traveler are electric bicycles that combine the exercise and mobility offered by a standard bicycle with the option of power-assisted commuting at the flick of a switch.

TH!NK bike fun has a rigid frame, while TH!NK bike traveler has a compact, foldable frame featuring a simple, three-step folding procedure, making it easy to store and transport. Both models will be available in June.

"Our TH!NK electric bikes are a simple solution for people who need the agility and freedom offered by a traditional bicycle, but who would also like the option of letting an electric motor do some of the work for them," said Rob Stevens, president of TH!NK Mobility, LLC. "They are ideal products for students, short-distance commuters, retirees, vacationers - anyone who wants to have the fun and convenience of a bicycle with the added freedom of electric-assisted power," Stevens added.

TH!NK bike fun and TH!NK bike traveler riders can use their own leg power, or with the flick of a switch on the right handle bar and a twist of the rheostat throttle in the grip, motor down the road assisted by a powerful electric motor.

Power to the 24-volt, 400-watt motor for the TH!NK bike fun and the 24-volt, 250-watt motor for the TH!NK bike traveler is provided by an easy-to-remove, lead acid battery pack stored under the seat. Charging is quick and easy, requiring only up to four hours from a standard home outlet. A portable direct-current charger is also available for recharging from a primary vehicle or other 12-volt power source. This charging method takes about eight hours for a fully discharged battery.

The standard drive system is a single-speed, direct-link transmission located in the crankshaft area. An optional two-speed unit is available for greater flexibility and efficiency. Range before recharging is about 30 miles for TH!NK bike fun and about 18 to 20 miles for TH!NK bike traveler. Top speed is 16 miles per hour (20 km/hour).

TH!NK bikes fun and traveler will be available at www.thinkmobility.com for direct delivery to the customer. TH!NK bikes will also be sold and serviced through a network of authorized retail outlets, including Ford dealerships. The suggested retail price for TH!NK bike fun is approximately $1,000. For TH!NK bike traveler the suggested retail price is approximately $1,200. The bike(s) will be delivered directly to the customer's address of choice when they become available this June.

TH!NK bike Concept

Also displayed for the first time at the 2000 North American International Auto Show was the TH!NK bike Concept, a design exercise that explores new ideas in design, construction and materials. It is built with lightweight metal alloys and composite materials that are strong, yet durable. TH!NK bike Concept stretches the envelope of possibilities, and provides a vision of bicycle design for the future.

TH!NK Group: Environmentally Responsible Solutions

In addition to its electric bicycles, the TH!NK Mobility portfolio of zero-emission vehicles also includes TH!NK neighbor, a two or four seat, battery-powered personal mobility low speed vehicle, and TH!NK city, a two-seat electric urban car. TH!NK Mobility, LLC, is a limited liability corporation that is wholly owned by Ford Motor Company. TH!NK Group, an enterprise of Ford Motor Company, is comprised of TH!NK Mobility (battery electric vehicles) and TH!NK Technologies (fuel cell electric vehicles) and is dedicated to developing and marketing environmentally friendly solutions for personal mobility.


Fun Dimensions

Operating size:

(L) - 71.8 inches

(W) - 27.6 inches

(H) - 32.3-38.6 inches

Total weight: 72.7 lbs max

26 inch wheels

Performance :

400 watt DC brush motor

24 volt energy source

30 mile average range

1-4 hour charging time

Aluminum frame and components

Dual "V" brakes

Variable power control

Safety:

Built-in diagnostic system

Brake disengages motor output

Electric assist up to 20 mph

Dual leg bike stand

Built-in battery & front wheel locks

Comfort:

Large padded comfort saddle

Front suspension fork - option

Adjustable saddle & handlebar

for best riding position

Sport fenders

Convenience:

On-board/off-board battery

charger

Energy level indicator

Full charge indicator light

Index twist-grip speed shifter

Front & rear quick release wheel

Price:

Approximately $1,000

Traveler Dimensions

Operating size:

(L) - 55.2 inches

(W) - 21.3 inches

(H) - 29.5-35.4 inches

Folding size:

(L) - 27.6 inches

(W) - 19.7 inches

(H) - 23.6 inches

Frame weight: 39.9 lbs

Battery weight: 13.3 lbs

20 inch wheels

Performance :

250 watt motor

24 volt energy source

18-20 mile average range

2-4 hour charging time

Aluminum frame and components

Dual "V" brakes

Variable power control

Safety:

Built-in diagnostic system

Brake disengages motor output

Electric assist up to 20 mph

Dual leg bike stand

Built-in battery & front wheel locks

Comfort:

Comfort saddle

Adjustable saddle & handlebar

for best riding position

Convenience:

On-board/off-board battery

charger

Energy level indicator

Full charge indicator light

Index twist-grip speed shifter

Price:

Approximately $1,200

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