June 15, 2012 at 4:21 PM ET
BMW has been trying to improve its green image lately with the i series of green concept vehicles. Apparently not satisfied with the greenness of its funky i3 electric, the car maker added a pair of folding electric bikes to the bargain.
Where you would normally have room for kids, groceries, or other cargo, the i3 now has special spots for two of its i Pedelec bikes. These futuristic folding contraptions have 200-watt electric motors that will propel you up to around 16MPH or assist you in climbing hills. They also harvest energy while braking or going downhill, like other eco-conscious electric motors. And if you're hopping on a bus or the subway, it folds up nicely and rolls along like luggage (at 44lbs, it's not quite a carry-on).
Unfortunately, little thought seems to have been given to the needs of urban bicyclists and commuters: the i Pedelec will get you from here to there (as long as "there" is within 20 miles or so), but there's nowhere to put your briefcase, to-go lunch, or any other thing you might want to carry with you. And of course the cargo space in the car has been sacrificed to make room for the bikes. But as they are merely concepts at the moment, some lenience may be given.
BMW isn't the first luxury car company to get into cycling; Audi too has produced an electric, the Worthersee, and Audi and McLaren both produced rather striking traditional bikes in partnership with existing bike manufacturers.
Around 200 i Pedelecs will be deployed as part the vehicle fleet supporting the 2012 Olympics in London, for which BMW is the sole vehicle supplier. Early pricing info puts the bike's host, the i3 electric vehicle, at a rather pricy £36,000, or around $56,000. The bikes would no doubt be extra, but BMW hasn't announced anything specific. You can read more about their specs here, or if you're in London, go visit their first i Store on Park Lane in person.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.