Kia has unveiled two prototype electric bikes at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show 70 years on from the vehicle manufacturer’s inception as Korea’s first mass producer of bicycles and coinciding with the European debut of the firm’s first globally-available electric vehicle – the Soul EV.
The all-new Kia Electric Bicycle (KEB) is a ‘pedelec’ electric bike and comes in both ‘City’ and ‘MTB’ (Mountain Bike) versions.
The rear-wheel drive KEB is propelled by a 250 watt electric motor producing 45 Nm of torque, and powered by a 36 volt, 10 amp lithium-ion polymer battery pack which is detachable for recharging. The City model is aimed at commuters and manages a claimed range of around 40 km on a single charge and a recharging time of four hours.
Designed and engineered by Kia’s Namyang Research & Development Centre in Korea, the KEB features a monocoque metal frame which looks like a carbon-fibre frame, but is produced by an advanced metal stamping technology and a robotic automated welding process – resulting in automotive-industry standards of quality control, says Kia.
Advanced metal stamping technology is a new production method specially developed at the Namyang R&D Centre for manufacturing the KEB’s frame. After pressing a metal sheet each side of the frame, the frame undergoes a robotic automated welding process ensuring uniform quality. This is in contrast to the frame of a more conventional bicycle, which is often manufactured by hydroforming, increasing the complexity and cost of production.
These production methods enable a greater choice of metals to be used during production, with metal stamping allowing the frame to be made up of aluminium, high-tensile steel and stainless steel.
Both the City and MTB models feature the same drivetrain and power pack, weigh around 20 kg in total, and have a top speed of 15.5 mph (25 kph) thus complying with EU regulations.
The City is intended as a universal design with its step-through frame, rear-mounted battery, 28-inch wheels and mud-flaps The MTB has RockShox 100 mm front forks, a mid-mounted battery and 26-inch wheels fitted with all-terrain tyres.
The two prototype KEB models were made using a frame, electric motor and power pack manufactured in Korea, together with brake and gear components from Shimano in Japan. Final assembly was carried out in Germany.