General Motors is building an electric bicycle and is holding a public contest to name the new brand. In addition to everlasting fame and glory, the winner will receive $10,000 USD. Nine runners up will win $1,000 each.
The bikes are slated to be part of what GM sees as the urban commuting network—not tomorrow, but right now. “As an avid cyclist and urban commuter, I know how great it feels to get where I’m going easily and to show up sweat-free,” said Hannah Parish, director of General Motors Urban Mobility Solutions.
The two designs, one compact and one folding, are designed for commuting rather than recreation. GM sees them as a way to stay mobile in increasingly crowded cities, where driving a personal car can be a liability.
While technical details won’t be released until next year, we do know that the eBike was designed and engineered at GM’s engineering and development center in Oshawa, Ontario, and built upon decades of automotive work in electrification and connectivity. A proprietary drive system is used, and innovators in the bicycle industry were on hand during automotive-grade testing to evaluate the results.
The eBike idea was first floated by GM in 2015 as part of a forward-thinking personal mobility strategy. Seeing that customers needed transportation solutions outside of the automobile, the global giant planned to take advantage of emerging technologies to meet the changing tastes of its customers. GM CEO Mary Barra said to investors at the time, “Some might find this massive change to be daunting, but we look at it and see the opportunity to be a disruptor.”
A previous GM partnership with Google tested hardware and software using Spark EVs as part of a commuter ride-sharing service. Trip patterns and schedules were analysed, along with user experiences. “We believe our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity is fundamental to our quest to redefine the future of personal mobility,” said Barra.
Fast-forward three years, and the new eBike is stressed as being “integrated and connected.” GM is currently not saying if the new project is to be part of a bike sharing sharing network, but each unit has telemetry systems on board, inspired by the ones used by OnStar. Given its previous involvement in numerous car- and ride-sharing projects, the company is clearly determined to be part of the alternative transportation landscape.
The eBike brand naming contest has the clearly state aim of “embracing and engaging communities “ by encouraging participants to “imagine the brand for yourself.” According to Parish, “Now we want to expand our thinking beyond the company walls and hear from people who like to move and have rad ideas.”
GM is hoping to tap into the creative minds of city dwellers with experience using multiple forms of transportation, from cars to bikes to public. The company cites the 2016 UN World Cities report that says 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030. By tapping into the pulse of people already there, GM might be able to better define its vision for the future.
Through November 26, 2018, interested parties can apply for the contest at ebikebrandchallenge.com. Judging will be held from November 26 to December 7, and winners announced January 31.