By Nicholas Katers |
The annual Wörthersee Tour in southern Austria attracts observers interested in the latest from Audi, VW and other regional manufacturers. Audi used the 2012 Wörthersee Tour to highlight a prototype electric bike aimed toward urban riders as well as outdoor lovers. This all-electric bicycle features a 530Wh lithium-ion battery and 2.3kW electric motor, which vaults this prototype ahead of the competition. Representatives from Audi noted that the battery recharges to full capacity within three hours using household outlets. The Wörthersee e-bike represents a step forward not only the future of bicycles but the incorporation of connectivity features across the transportation sector.
Audi streamlined the Wörthersee e-bike by reducing weight, improving gears and keeping the frame functional for the full spectrum of riders. The e-bike weighs less than 37 pounds including the battery, electric motor and other drive components. Designers used the automaker’s R8 R-tronic transmission as inspiration for the nine-gear shifting mechanism.
A frame designed with Audi’s carbon fiber-reinforced polymer lightens the load for riders. Audi also used ultra blade spokes and lightweight wheels to extend range by reducing weight. This concept even uses LED lighting for the front and rear lights to conserve battery life during nighttime rides.
An important component of this e-bike concept is an onboard computer that enhances the cycling experience. Audi installed the computer within the handlebar and allows riders to activate software using their phones. Avid cyclists can store their favorite routes within the phone and track performance metrics including battery charge, speed and riding angle.
The Wörthersee e-bike also appeals to daredevils by rewarding points for successful tricks as recorded by the phone’s camera. These points are transmitted to a dedicated website where e-bike riders around the world can compete.
Cyclists interested in modifying their power output can choose from six modes using the onboard computer. The default Pure mode allows the rider to forego the electric drive mechanism for manpower. The Pedelec mode combines manpower with motor support to achieve a top speed of 50 miles per hour for up to 44 miles.
Audi’s eGrip mode uses only electric power with the motor capable of reaching 31 MPH. Trick riders use the Power Wheelie and Balanced Wheelie modes in order to complete their favorite moves with the help of an advanced control system. The Training mode regulates speed and gear shifts in order to create consistency for competitive cyclists.
The Audi Wörthersee e-bike concept caters to a niche market looking for bicycles that can be used in urban and rural environments. We shouldn’t solely look at the performance metrics of this concept lest we miss out on Audi’s advancements in vehicle technology.
Audi has been sluggish to embrace the hybrid trend compared to other automakers in Europe but components in the Wörthersee e-bike can translate to passenger vehicles. The inclusion of an onboard computer that handles tasks ranging from battery management to trip planning could be incorporated into future Audi models. Audi’s development of an effective lithium-ion battery for the e-bike should be scaled up to power coupes, sedans and SUVs in the next decade.