General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) pulled out of Europe’s automobile market two years ago. Now the company is returning, but this time with an electric bicycle called the ARĪV that is now available for preorders in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Delivery to customers is scheduled to begin in the second quarter.
The ARĪV comes in two models: the compact Meld and a folding version called the Merge. The Meld is priced at €2,800 (about $3,100) and the Merge costs €3,400 (about $3,840) in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Germany, each model is priced at €50 less.
Both models use a proprietary engine from GM that was specially built for the ARĪV and has a top speed of up to 25 kilometers per hour (about 16 mph) using pedal-assisted power. The battery delivers up to 64 kilometers (about 58 miles) and can be fully charged in approximately 3.5 hours.
GM first announced its plans to build and sell an electric bicycle last November on the same day that Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk said in an interview that his company may also build an electric bike after dismissing the currently popular electric scooters from companies like Lime and Bird as undignified, according to a report at Electrek. So far, Tesla has not delivered, but that’s not a particular surprise because the company has other problems to solve first.
Literally hundreds of models of electric bikes are already available for U.S. riders, but sales have been less than robust, which explains why GM is releasing the ARĪV first in Europe. Bike maker Specialized, for example, sells a high-performance electric bike, the Turbo Vado 6.0, for $5,000, and British bicycle maker Raleigh sells a commuter model for $3,000. GM’s entrants don’t match the top speeds (about 28 mph) or range (about 80 miles) of either model but do appear to be priced competitively for what they do offer.
The ARĪV comes equipped with Bluetooth to connect with an eBike app on a rider’s phone and an integrated USB port that allows riders to charge their phones while pedaling. GM also said it plans to add a feature to the mobile app that uses “a proprietary algorithm to help riders arrive at their destination sweat-free.”
Customers in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany can preorder the ARĪV at the BikeExchange website beginning today (February 15). GM did not say if and when the bikes will be available in the United States.