The Peugeot eDL-132 mid-drive electric bicycle is a gorgeous example of a car company that wants to get some publicity with the growing trend of cars and motorcycles adding an electric-drive to their model line. Over the past decade, it has been rare for me to see any evidence of a Peugeot outside of France and the European Union (EU), but two years ago, the French company Peugeot decided to start making some bold moves, which would be needed if they were to begin developing exports in order to grow their business.
History of Peugeot
In 1810, the Peugeot family converted the water-driven mill in Sous-Cratet into a steel foundry (in Doubs County, Eastern France, on the Swiss border). They manufactured a variety of products, and in 1882, Armand Peugeot designed the “Grand Bi” model of “Penny farthing” bicycle (with 51-inch diameter front wheel), which became known for its quality, and it was well-received by the cycling public. (The Frenchman Eugene Mayer has been credited with the invention of the “high-wheel” style of bicycle in 1869).
Peugeot began manufacturing bicycles late in the new “highwheeler” trend, and only four years later they switched to manufacturing a “safety” style of bicycle. The new safety bicycles were patented by the British inventor John Starley in 1884, and they became immediately popular. This transformed the bicycle and was the birth of the explosion in the bicycle as a realistic means of affordable transportation.
The populations of the major countries in the 1890’s were much smaller than today, and yet Peugeot was selling over 10,000 bicycles per year. Cars would not become affordable to the common person until at least 20 years into the future, so this was the golden age of the “bicycle craze”.
In 1889, the Peugeot company built a steam-powered 3-wheeled automobile prototype. The next year they switched their production cars to the new gasoline engine, and by 1892 they had sold over 30 automobiles. By 1900, Peugeot had firmly established itself as a car and bicycle producer.
Here is Peugeots first production E-bike, from just a few years ago. Due to the modest 250W power limit in the European Union (EU), it only required a small front geared-hub, and the battery and controller are mounted on the rear cargo rack. These components were easily fitted to one of their common production bicycle frames. This popular commuter model has a fully-enclosed chain, and a factory-mounted rear wheel lock, which prevents the rear wheel from being pedaled.
Recently, there has been competition from other mid drive E-bike models that were available from other EU companies. This has encouraged Peugeot to design a factory-built E-bike with a mid drive motor. By giving the motor the ability to use the bikes gears, the modest 250W legal power system can climb hills much easier.
The eDL 132 Concept E-bike
The high cost of developing their diesel-electric hybrid car, and also their gasoline-electric hybrid scooter shows that…Peugeot is very serious about becoming a survivor in the growing alternative vehicles field.
Its almost a given that in recent years, any large automotive manufacturer has developed an electric bicycle (or soon will), if only for the publicity it generates. On the one hand, this means that a lot of money can be spent on a prestige design that will represent the marque, therefore…it will likely be impressive and perhaps even cutting-edge. On the other hand, there have already been several impressive prototype e-bikes designed, and yet…they never seem to go into production.
There are many details, but the main points are that it has a very modern, light, and strong frame made from carbon-fiber. It also has a mid-drive system that lets the motor use the gears on the bicycle. Plus, the rear wheel has an Alfine 11-speed hub, and it uses the exotic Di2 electronic auto-shifter.
This view shows the computer that is integrated into the sleek handlebars.
Here, we can see the quiet-running and clean Gates carbon belt-drive. The elevated stay means the frame does not need a break in the stay that would then need to be un-bolted to replace the one-piece belt.
The Rear hub is a Shimano Alfine 11-speed, and the advanced Di2 shifting system senses the load an automatically chooses the proper gear. The brakes are both hydraulic discs, and the tires are Schwalbe Kojaks. With the added electric power, 11 speeds should be enough for any terrain.