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GM’s next electric vehicle is an e-bike

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The company behind the all-electric Chevy Bolt car is releasing two electric bicycles next year.

General Motors announced Friday that its two commuter-friendly bikes will be “integrated and connected” and one will fold. The other is compact.

Full details on the bike’s motor, battery, frame, and more aren’t out yet, but speculation about the forthcoming electric-assist bicycles has been brewing for years.

Last year, two trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “Merge” and “Maven Merge” tipped off eagle-eyed GM fans that an e-bicycle was in the works from the American car maker. 

Back in 2015, the Washington Post wrote about a GM exec hinting at an e-bike service — maybe something like Ford’s GoBike sharing service.

Now we know what those hints were about. But it’s for a consumer product, not a sharing service — though it’s easy to see how the bikes could fit into GM’s car-sharing platform, Maven, one day.

The e-bike folds.

The e-bike folds.

Hannah Parish, GM’s director of urban mobility solutions, said in a phone call this week that the bikes are all about “helping people move around cities in an easier way that fits seamlessly into their lives.”

She said the bikes are primarily about first- and last-mile commuting, hence the folding. You can take the train, fold up the bike, and then pull it out for the last portion of the ride to the office.

The bikes were designed by GM car designers, so they have a car-like feel. They also have rechargeable front and rear LED lights to help assuage worries about safety. Parish said the main reason people say they don’t bike is because they don’t want to get hit by a car. 

The second is getting sweaty while riding. That’s where the electric-assist helps with pedaling.

There’s just one thing missing: the brand name for GM’s new e-bike line. The Merge branding isn’t going to carry over when the bikes come out in 2019. The motor is GM, but the bikes are brandless. Cue GM’s super-promotional “E-Bike Brand Challenge.” 

The contest is seeking creative names for the bikes, with $10,000 going to the grand prize winner. And for nine runners-up, there’s $1,000 at play. GM hasn’t released the bicycles’ pricing yet — it only says the bikes are more affordable than a car — but that should cover some of the cost of an e-bike. The grand prize winner should (hopefully) be set for a new pair of electric wheels. 

The winning name (no Bikey McBikeface submissions, please) and cash-prize winners will be announced in early 2019 in time for the bikes’ release shortly thereafter.

Anyone with an idea can submit a name suggestion for the bikes through Nov. 26. At the very least, this can be a non-controversial conversation starter at the Thanksgiving table.

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