We call a car with a gas engine and an electric motor a hybrid. What do you can a fully enclosed three wheel pedal car with an electric motor? Good question. The people at VeloMetro, a Vancouver based start-up call theirs a velomobile. The Veemo hybrid tricycle prototype uses an aluminum composite sandwich for its composite monocoque body with integrated crumple zones.
“There have been studies that have shown that up to 60 percent of a city’s population would like to cycle more, but they don’t for reasons such as not wanting to get into cycling attire, not wanting to wear a helmet, or worrying about their bike getting stolen,” VeloMetro co-founder Kody Baker tells us. “We’ve designed a vehicle and a service that addresses all of those issues.”
Bicycle sharing services are very popular in many large cities but riding a bike in the rain or a snowstorm can be unpleasant. Car sharing services like BlueIndy are useful, but the cost can add up. The velomobile sharing program designed by VeloMetro for the Veemo costs just 20 cents a minute. How does it work?
There is no membership requirement. Instead, drivers use their smartphone to sign out a Veemo from a nearby VeloMetro lot using a major credit card whenever they need one. As they approach their destination, an internet connected dashboard tablet will show them the locations of motorcycle parking spots close by, along with other drop-off locations.
“We’re working with the City of Vancouver to get a few vehicles in with their private city staff fleet, so they’re going to be our early beta testers,” says Baker. “Then we’ll have a pilot fleet out at the University of British Columbia, for students and staff to ride around campus.”
Because the Veemo is enclosed, riders don’t need to wear a helmet or protective clothing. The electric assist feature means they won’t work up a sweat or need to change clothes when they get where they’re going. Fitness conscious users can choose to less assistance from the motor for more of a workout if they wish.
The Veemo has an automatic transmission with a reverse gear, hydraulic disc brakes, and a full LED lighting system. It should weigh about 265 lbs in its final production configuration. With its lithium ion battery pack, it should have a range of 62 miles. Top speed is limited to 20 mph to avoid having it classified as a motor vehicle by the local DMV.
The first Veemo-sharing service for the general public is scheduled to start in Vancouver next year, with other Pacific Northwest cities following soon afterward. If you want a Veemo of your own, there are plans for individual sales at some point in the future. Retail prices have not been announced.
Is the Veemo a good idea or just another pie in the sky proposal doomed to failure? Tell us what you think in the comments section.