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Karbike is an innovative hybrid vehicle that stands at the intersection of cars and bicycles

In the ever-evolving urban transportation landscape, mobility companies are increasingly focused on developing environmentally friendly solutions for navigating bustling cities. In an effort to meet the needs of city dwellers looking for sustainable and efficient commuting solutions, French startup Karbikes has introduced a new electric vehicle concept that sits at the crossroads between bicycle and micro-car.

The innovative new vehicle features four wheels, two seats, designer headlights, a windshield and a complete bodywork, making it look like a miniature car. However, it is an electrically assisted cargo bike whose 250 W electric motor is only activated by pedaling.

As such, with an ingenious blend of functionality and environmental friendliness, the Karbike promises to deliver both the benefits of an electric bike and the improved stability and comfort of a compact car, meaning it could be a perfect companion for city commuting. commuters.

Karbikes is a new player on the mobility scene and was founded in April 2022 by Gaelle Richard and Lucas Vançon, two environmentally driven engineers who left their previous jobs to embark on this bicycle-car project. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and this unconventional design is also the result of a need. “Cycling when it’s raining and cold doesn’t always make you want to cycle, so I said to myself why not put a roof on the bike and while we thought about it we came up with this concept,” Lucas Vançon explained.

Karbike is an innovative electrically assisted cargo bike

Photo: Cart bikes

Built with a steel frame, aluminum roof, unbreakable polycarbonate windshield and sturdy lockable doors (yet to be installed), this new e-bike is designed to protect the rider from wind and rain while improving stability and safety to offer. .

According to statistics, 75% of cycling accidents occur due to loss of balance of the cyclist. Karbikes promises that the vehicle’s robust chassis and four-wheel design will help reduce the risk of accidents. In addition, riders will have better visibility, comparable to that of a city car, while additional features such as lockable doors, an alarm system, a horn, a traffic light and flashing lights will increase safety.

The car-bike is designed with weather protection in mind and is equipped with a partially convertible body. This means you get full protection in rainy or windy conditions, but the roof, windows and boot door are retractable when you want to enjoy the fresh air, feel the breeze in your hair and be closer to nature on sunny days . , especially if you drive on a beautiful road.

Karbike is an innovative electrically assisted cargo bike

Photo: Cart bikes

In terms of dimensions, the Karbike is three times more compact than a standard car. It is only 80 cm wide, which makes it thinner than even a three-wheeled cargo bike. This ensures easy maneuverability and makes it ideal for the urban environment, both on cycle paths and on the road.

The rider powers the hybrid vehicle using both pedals and a centrally mounted 250-watt Valeo motor. The electric motor is assisted by a 750 Wh battery, which promises an initial range of 75 km (46.6 miles). However, the inventors say riders can get more than that thanks to the aerodynamic bodywork, an optional solar panel and the energy recovery system used during braking.

In terms of performance, the karbike is limited to 25 km/h (15.5 mph) and its torquey motor delivers around 130 Nm, meaning it can even climb hills while carrying heavy loads.

The vehicle starts with a password that you enter on a screen or via a connected phone. “Unlike the classic electric bicycle, there is no derailleur, but an automatic gearbox, manufactured by Valéo in the Lyon region. The gears shift automatically, and there is reverse.” the makers explain.

Karbike is an innovative electrically assisted cargo bike

Photo: Cart bikes

The startup plans to offer two versions of the hybrid vehicle: a single-seater model focused on convenience with a configuration that accommodates the rider in the front and cargo space in the rear, and a family-oriented model that can carry an adult and two children. with groceries or other goods. The variant aimed at professionals offers a storage capacity of one cubic meter and a payload of 200 kg (440 lb).

The components of this vehicle are sourced from local manufacturers and demonstrate the makers’ commitment to creating a sustainable product and contributing to a low-carbon world. So the chassis is made in Hochfelden, the windscreens in Mulhouse and the Valeo engines in the Lyon region, and everything is assembled in the company’s workshop in Strasbourg.

For now, the product is in the prototype phase, but the two inventors from Alsace plan to develop it in series and are currently looking for financing to start production. If everything goes according to plan, the first Karbike units will be delivered to their owners in the summer of 2024. With its convenient mix of practicality, safety and practicality, this hybrid vehicle is certainly an interesting way to get around town without having to drive. soaked from the rain.

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