This post originally appeared on The Infrastructurist.
There are big changes afoot in the car industry. The media is reaching a fever pitch over electric vehicles as the Chevy Volt prepares to hit the market, with its rumors of 127 mpg (and predictions of substantial CO2 savings). Meanwhile, global production of motor vehicles tumbled 13% in 2009, and the auto industry is still struggling with tepid sales as unemployment numbers continue padlocking consumer pocketbooks.
All of which sets the stage for a somewhat radical new trend from carmakers: producing bikes. Not motor bikes, like the Honda Powersports or cute little Yamahas — we’re talking your basic man (or woman)-powered bicycles. Take the BMW Cruise, a fancy new 24-speed that retails for $1,190. There’s also the BMW Kidsbike, a bicycle for toddlers and kids under five. Then there’s Cooper’s T100 Urban Street Bike, as well as the stylish Mini Cooper bicycle. Add Peugeot — a company that actually got its start making bicycles in the 1880s — to the mix; the company will be relaunching its bike line in the U.K. in January, following a nine-year break.
When you think about it, carmakers making bikes isn’t a crazy idea. The “death of the suburbs” idea is more than just a notion: More and more young professionals with disposable income are moving to and staying in urban areas, where car ownership just isn’t viable — but the desire for luxury vehicles (or possessions, period) remains strong. According to the London Evening Standard, Cooper execs are openly aiming for the young urban market, and are thus focusing on style and overall coolness. Same deal for Peugeot. The question remains whether all these urban consumers who want bikes will really shell out that much money for a branded two-wheeler — particularly when bike theft remains so rampant in cities.