Audi is known for their four-wheel drive prowess, with the Quattro mentality embodied in their very logo. But at yesterday's Worthersee AutoNews 2012 show in Austria, they pulled the sheets off of a two-wheeled creation: Their lithium-ion-battery-powered E-bike Worthersee concept.
We've seen automakers design bicycles to tuck in the trunk before, but this one isn't intended as a crunchy green adjunct to driving; instead it's meant to be an unabashed display of Audi's design and technology prowess. They make no bones about the fact that the bike is intended for "sport, fun and tricks," which explains why the thing produces more torque than my VW Golf did and has a top speed of 50 freaking miles per hour.
The Audi e-bike Worthersee combines the Audi brand's principal competences - design, ultra, connect and e-tron—and explores the limits of what is technically feasible in terms of design, lightweight construction, networking and electric mobility. [The] ultra-light carbon-fiber frame weighs only 1,600 grams (3.53 lb). It makes use of bionic principles derived from nature. Material reinforcements are needed only at the points where loads actually occur. The swinging arm for the rear wheel is also made of CFRP. All in all, the Audi e-bike Worthersee represents the full extent of the brand's expertise in ultra-lightweight design.
The bike has three levels of power: You can either provide all of the juice by pedaling, provide some of the juice with the electric motor taking up the slack, or have the electric motor do all the work. Beyond that are two somewhat bizarre-sounding "Wheelie" modes, where you're meant to tip the bike back on its rear wheel and ride it like a Segway, with the motor taking care of the balance and braking or accelerating when you lean forwards or backwards.