The Kia Electric Bicycle (KEB) made its world premiere in Geneva today, signalling the brand’s intention to offer transportation alternatives beyond its passenger vehicle range.
The South Korean manufacturer unveiled two KEB prototypes: the white urban-focused City, featuring a step-through frame, 28-inch wheels, and mudflaps; and the black MTB, equipped with 100mm Rock Shock front forks, 26-inch wheels, and all-terrain tyres for more adventurous, off-road rides.
The rear-wheel-drive KEB duo is propelled by 250-watt/45Nm electric motor, from which Kia promises “lively performance”. Power comes from a 36-volt, 10-amp lithium-ion polymer battery pack, providing a claimed range of up to 40km for the City model and a four-hour recharge time.
Both weigh roughly 20kg and have a top speed of 25km/h, complying with European Union regulations.
Designed an engineered by the brand’s Venture Business Development team at the Namyang R&D Centre in South Korea, the KEB features a monocoque frame produced using an advanced metal stamping technology and a robotic automated welding process, which Kia claims delivers automotive-industry standards of quality control.
Unlike the more conventional hydroforming production process, Kia says its new production methods allow for greater design freedom and a greater number of workable metals, such as aluminium, high-tensile steel and stainless steel. It says its methods are also less complex and more cost efficient than hydroforming.
The prototype frames, electric motors and power packs were manufactured in South Korea before final assembly – using Shimano brake and gear components from Japan – was carried out in Germany.
Kia, which started life manufacturing bicycle parts in 1944, plans to closely monitor the public’s reaction to the prototypes as it considers commercial KEB production in the future.