Next Automotive Powerhouse Steps into E-Bikes: Michelin
PARIS, France – After a big and growing number of suppliers from the automotive sector made their appearance within the e-bike market, the next powerhouse appears now. And this time it’s an unexpected one. Michelin is making it acquaintance in electric bicycles with “E-drives powered by Michelin”.
Michelin is stepping into e-bikes through a cooperation with French Mobivia group and its car distributor Norauto. According to a report in the French press “Michelin reinvents the electric bike. The equipment manufacturer has just put on the market a model developed with Wayscral bikes and the distributor Norauto, two brands of the Mobivia group.”
Alternative transport modes
The 22 billion euro revenue tyre maker is apparently looking at getting involved in other means of transport as well as with other products than tyres. In that search Michelin found a partner in the Mobivia Groupe as this company, which claims to be Europe’s leading multi-brand automotive and equipment company, is turning to “alternative transport modes to the car”. For that Mobivia Groupe opened ‘Altermove’ stores in France and partnered in Smoove that since last year operates the Velib public bike scheme in Paris.
Patented drive system
“The research and development teams have taken three years to reach this result and filed nine patents,” said Christian Delhaye, Managing Director Michelin Lifestyle Ltd. “Our cooperation with Mobivia offers us a very important market, because the group represents 10 percent of the electric bike market in France”. 2018 e-bike sales in France increased by 21 percent to an all-time high of 338,000 units.
Inspired by Solex
The “E-drive powered by Michelin” is developed by the Michelin and Mobivia engineers. It is inspired by how ancient Solex bikes were powered. They were propelled by a drive wheel that was placed directly on the tyre. Michelin’s and Mobivia’s Wayscral e-bike have a similar drive system. It operates with a generator in the rear wheel that, according to the press report “Drives the electric assist. The electrification kit with its 36 volts and 6A battery has a total weight of 3 kg for an estimated range of 50 km. Total weight of the bike, 18 kg, is 20 to 25 percent lower than the average of two-wheelers with electric assistance. And it all comes at an affordable price of 1,000 euro”.
Like the old Solex drive system, the Michelin e-drive operates with a drive wheel placed at the side of the bikes. Positioned directly under the battery with integrated electric motor, the drive wheel transmits its power to the grooved Michelin tyre sidewall and sets the wheel in motion.
Whether Michelin’s e-drives are to become a OEM product to be sold to e-bike makers like the company’s tyres, remains for now unclear.