Good for your health in more ways than one

It seems like there’s no shortage of plans to save the planet these days. One of the latest comes from Mikael Kjellman, a design engineer based out of Ostersund, Sweden, who developed a fully enclosed, fabric-bodied electric bike-car loaded with features normally reserved for traditional automobiles. It’s called the PodRide.

As a biking enthusiast, Kjellman says the idea was originally a way to combat the less-than-ideal Swedish weather. Now, however, he’s facing a much bigger undertaking – maximizing the environmental benefits of the bike-car by increasing its popularity. The strategy? Make it more like a car.

Also called a velomobile, the PodRide is similar to a recumbent bicycle in its operation. The human pilot can pedal the four-wheeled vehicle forward, but there’s also a 250-watt electric motor onboard for on-demand acceleration. With electric power alone, the PodRide can reach speeds up to 25 km/h (15.5 mph), and go a distance of 60 km (37.3 miles) on a single charge.

It’s not too low, either, with the rider sitting roughly at the same height as a driver in a road car, which means good visibility. Designed for practicality and everyday use, there’s a small trunk for groceries, plus the option for a tow bar. There are even headlights, turn signals, and a manual windshield wiper, not to mention a fully enclosed body to protect the rider from the elements. And as evidenced by the slick donuts executed in the accompanying YouTube video, it looks pretty fun too.

The PodRide can be used on the road, but it’s also narrow enough for the bike path. Kjellman says he’s driven his creation to work every day for a year without issue, and he’s currently seeking funding through Indiegogo to develop a kit based on his prototype with the intention of selling it to at-home builders.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why It Matters

First, a little more about the vehicle –

The PodRide is built on an aluminum frame and uses a waterproof cloth body to encapsulate the rider. It uses 14 gears when pedaled, while the electric motor is juiced by a lithium-ion battery. Drum brakes are used to stop. Steering is accomplished via twin levers on either side of the seat, with the brakes controlled by the handles.

Riders swing the top section up for ingress and egress. Features include a heated windshield, air suspension, and if you need them, studded tires. The front “grille” can also be opened to provide the rider with ventilation when it’s warm out (think of it like a manual version of an active grille shudder to provide greater bio-efficiency).

The dimensions are 180 cm (70.9 inches) in length, 75 cm (29.5 inches) in width, and 145 cm (57.1 inches) in height. The wheelbase is 88 cm (34.6 inches). Total vehicle weight is 70 kg (154 pounds).

Say Hello To The PodRide – A Swedish All-Weather Electric Bike-Car
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The prototype has been in development for a year now, and currently has 325 backers contributing $18,475 in funding. If there’s enough interest, the final production model is expected to sell for around $2,800.

“I think my more car-like bicycle-car concept will appeal to many more people than the low streamlined tricycles that are available today,” Kjellman states on his Indiegogo page. “I hope that by building and running practical, fun and good looking bicycle-cars like PodRide, we can get bicycle-cars to become a popular and mass-produced vehicle.”

But the question remains – does this thing have what it takes to save the planet?

While a bit out of place in the U.S., I could see the PodRide gaining interest in Europe and Asia. However, as stateside urban centers become more crowded and polluted, transportation solutions like the PodRide will surely gain traction. Maybe in five to 10 years, vehicles like this will be commonplace.

Say Hello To The PodRide – A Swedish All-Weather Electric Bike-Car
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Of course, I got a few ideas of my own on how to make these things more popular. I’d love to see new fabric wraps that draw inspiration from famous sports cars (Ferrari 458? Koenigsegg Regera?). Or, since it’s coming from Sweden, maybe a rally car would be more appropriate – I’m thinking a be-winged Subaru 22B. Don’t forget the gold wheels.

Source: Indiegogo

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