Vietnam-based electric car maker VinFast showed off more than just electric SUVs and crossovers at CES 2023. The electric automaker surprised us with four new electric bike concepts on display.
The company already has a fairly eclectic offering of EVs that spans electric cars, electric scooters, electric buses, and clean energy solutions. But the electric-assist bicycles represent a new direction for VinFast.
All four bikes were listed as “concepts,” and there’s no word on whether they’ll actually make it to production. But since VinFast is already producing seated electric scooters, it wouldn’t be so far-fetched to see the company drop down a weight class or two and produce electric bicycles.
The four models, seen below in photos taken by Electrek’s Scooter Doll, represent a wide range of e-bike styles for diverse riding scenarios.
Two of the bikes feature mid-drive motors and two feature hub motors, but they’re each uniquely adapted for a different style of riding.
The forest green model is a hybrid-style commuter bike with a centrally-located mid-drive motor, a rigid fork, a forward-tucked geometry and what appears to be frame-integrated LED lighting.
Next to it sits a blue electric mountain bike that uses a similar style frame outfitted with a short-travel suspension fork. The bike isn’t quite as rugged as most hardtail eMTBs we’ve seen, underscored by the frame’s rather diminutive seat stay tubes. But considering that these are concept e-bikes, that frame could certainly change by the time it reaches production.
The company also showed off a mini-bike electric bicycle with rear hub motor that seems to invoke some serious SUPER73 vibes. The bike uses an open moped-style frame with a stubby bench seat that covers an underslung battery. A pair of 20″ diameter knobby fat tires and a dual crown suspension fork seem to imply that the bike might have scrambler-esque aspirations for both on and off-road riding.
Lastly, VinFast also showed off a narrow-tire folding e-bike with a rear-hub motor. The small e-bike seems designed to fulfill a commuter-type role. Such e-bikes have proven popular for commuters that need to carry the e-bike onto a bus or subway and for drivers who like to keep a small folding e-bike in the trunk of their car to extend their reach into a city.
VinFast’s electric bike concepts seem to be fleshing out the company’s product line ahead of a possible IPO. The move also highlights a growing trend we’ve seen in the auto industry of automakers partnering or innovating their way toward micromobility vehicles like e-bikes and scooters wearing the automaker’s badge.
Many such automakers have either white-labeled or otherwise teamed up with e-bike makers to produce a two-wheeler bearing the company’s name. That’s how Polestar wound up with its own bike, and others such as Hummer and Jeep pulled similar moves to create a branded e-bike model. Ducati and BMW also used a similar strategy on their path to e-bikes and e-scooters.
Other companies have actually developed their own two-wheelers in house from the ground up. Harley-Davidson famously spent years designing its popular electric bikes that were eventually spun out as independent e-bike company Serial 1. GM developed a custom-designed electric bike with a much lauded design, though it met an untimely demise in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Porsche has a number of interesting e-bikes as well, as does Peugeot.
Now it looks like VinFast could be set to join that second group if it eventually brings these e-bike concepts to fruition.
By Micah Toll @ Electrek