As the 2014 Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland, most of the attention goes to high-priced supercars from automakers like Lamborghini and Ferrari.
However, one of the most significant vehicles at the show might not be a car at all – it just might be the Kia Electric Bicycle or KEB.
Why? Because this vehicles demonstrates Kia’s superior engineering talents and shows the potential future of automotive manufacturing.
About the KEB
Kia’s new bicycle is referred to as a “pedelec” bike (pedal + electric = pedelec), which allows for the use of both leg and electric power. Riders can move the bike with their own legs or use the battery-powered motor to do the job.
The KEB uses a 250 watt motor and a 36 volt lithium-ion battery, which is removable and can be charged using a common household outlet.
Kia created two versions, one for city and another for mountain rides, but right now the bikes are merely teasers, with no official word on production times or availability.
Why the Kia Electric Bicycle Matters
The KEB matters, not so much because of what it is, but how it was created.
Kia used the combination of an advanced metal stamping process with robotic welding to build the frame of the bicycle. The process began by stamping each half of the frame separately, then using robotics to weld the pieces together and create the frame.
This system has many advantages in manufacturing.
For starters, is allows for a greater choice of metals, as the system can be used for aluminum, high-tensile steel, and even stainless steel. It creates better quality control and simplifies the manufacturing process, potentially creating better and more affordable products. The system can also allow for greater design freedom and possibly result in more unique exterior designs.
While the manufacturing system was created for the KEB, it shows Kia’s advanced engineering and design prowess. Of course, automotive engineering is far more complex than bicycles, so whether or not this system (or part of it) is used to create cars has yet to be seen.
One thing is certain: Kia has once again proven they are a global leader in design, engineering, and innovation.