General Motors makes a lot of money from pickup trucks and SUVs, but now it's getting into the bicycle business.
On Friday, GM unveiled two electric bikes that will go on sale next year. E-bikes are pedal bikes that also have a small battery pack and an electric motor. As a rider pedals, the electric motor provides additional power. Some e-bikes can run on electricity alone with no pedaling. GM would not say whether its new bikes would require pedaling
"You get on the bike and you feel like you have the wind at your back in both directions," said Jennifer Cathcart, e-bike marketing manager at GM.
The bikes, including their electric motors, were developed by GM with assistance from engineers who worked on the automaker's electric cars, such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
The two new bikes, one of which is foldable, are designed with urban use in mind. Because they require less exertion to ride, e-bikes do away with some common objections to bike riding. In particular, riders won't have to work up a sweat on their way to work, even when riding uphill, Cathcart said. The bikes will include built-in front and back lights, GM said.
Besides being a viable new line of business, the bikes support GM's long-term goals to eventually provide customers with "zero emissions" and "zero congestion," Cathcart said.
The electric bicycles will also have Internet connections, although GM (GM) won't say yet what those connections will enable. GM also isn't saying how the bikes will be marketed, including whether they will be sold individually to consumers, used in bike sharing fleets, or both.
GM's new bike brand also doesn't currently have a name. The company is asking for suggestions at eBikeBrandChallenge.com. The winning submission will get a $10,000 prize, while nine runners up will get $1,000 apiece. The winners will be selected by a panel and, in the event that there are multiple submissions of the same winning name, the one with the best supporting argument will take the top prize.