Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 velomobile industry update


2014 velomobile industry update
 With the arrival of a new year, it is time to take stock of the activities of 2014 and it has been a busy year.  Finding analyzing and making sense of this information is significant detective work.  While some manufacturers provide excellent data and offer blogs or Facebook page to announce their current activities, most do not. Several manufacturers offer very limited and often dated information on their website.  In my opinion it is bad for their business, the industry and for the world of HPV in general to barely use this medium to get information to prospective customers. In order to find information I had to spend hours searching on newsgroups, Facebook pages, news articles and other on-line sources.  Further compounding the problem is the language barrier as English is not the language used in the operation of most manufacturers.  It is too bad that many people can create a large buzz on Internet when they do not even have a product and we have a number of manufacturers who have good products available and a less than perfect showcase to display their products.

In 2014 the velomobiling world saw a lot of change with the introduction of many new models, innovations, corporate changes and new players introduced a lot of new products.  With so many players, it is hard to determine if there is a real expansion of the market but there is certainly more choices for potential customers. 

Over the past couple of years, we have seen a new generation, I refer to this as 3rd generation, of lighter, faster and better-equipped velomobiles have entered the market.  New designs have pushed some of the limits of human power.  In 2014, two companies have been working on the development of 4 wheel velomobiles and velomobiles with a passenger or cargo space behind the rider.

Europe is still the center of the velomobiling industry but Australia and Canada are also significant players.  In Europe, production of velomobiles appears to have shifted somewhat from Western Europe to Eastern Europe and North America.  While Byess and Raderwerk still produce their velomobiles in Germany, over the past few years several others ceased manufacturing in the Netherlands and Belgium and moved east in search of cheaper production costs.

On the shell side, carbon shells are starting to appear, we’ve seen the introduction of a minimalistic sub $1,000 shell.  While  most shells used to be built for the ICE trikes, there is a new crop designed to the KMX.

Velomobiel.nl – Produced 86 velomobiles this year a significant drop of the number of  velomobiles produced from a high of 165 last year.  Early in the year Velomobiel introduced of the Strada DF, the new design generated a lot of buzz in the community.  

Velomobiel.nl - 2014 Production by Type
Model
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Quest


1
4
1
2


1
1
3

Carbon Quest
2
1
4
5
3
3
1
1
2
2
1

Quest XS



3

1
1


1


Carbon Quest XS

2
2
1

2
1

2

1

Strada

1
3
5
1
1
3

3
4


Carbon Strada


2

1
2
2


1
2

Total
2
4
12
18
6
11
8
1
8
9
7
0



The company went through a significant restructuring halfway through the year when Ymte and Daniel left to create their own company, Intercitybike.nl.  Under the terms of this separation, Allert and Theo are now in charge at Velomobiel. They will retain production of the Quest and Strada while Intercitybike will produce the DF. 

Principals of both companies still share ownership of Velomobiel.RO will produce all the shells for both companies in Romania.  Velomobiel.ro was founded in 2012 and is run by Jan Wijnen production of velomobiles was transferred from the Netherlands to Romenia in 2013 where new facility where lower production costs and skilled labour were available.  Following the separation,

Allert Jacobs announced the design and development of the Quest 4 Wheel (Q4W) development, inspired by Miles Kingsbury‘s Quatro velomobile.  If successful, production is expected in 2015.

Intercitybike.nl – The company was created by Ymte Sijbrandij and Daniel Fenn after they left Velomobiel.nl.  The company wants to focus on performance velomobiles.  The company delivered the first DF, increase in DF production, long waiting list, development of the DF-XL, first one on the road, comparative tests In 2014, 33 DF and 1 DF-XL were produced Interestingly, according to the records, there is a number 0 but no number 5.  Daniel Fenn also produced the M, an ultralight and smaller version of the DF he used for racing at the World Championships in France last summer, Intercitybike has not made any announcement on the production of this prototype.  It is expected that Intercitybike will design and produce a hood for the DF to improve the aerodynamics and weather protection in 2015.




Bluevelo It looks like the yellow fiberglass Quest QB100 has been produced in 2014, it also appears that there is no more production/assembly of Quest in Canada and velomobile of Dutch velomobiles are coming already assembled.  Bluevelo was quick to obtain distribution rights to Intercitybike’s products.  The company still offers the Cab-Bike and indigenous derivative Team and Hornet.

Sinner filed for bankruptcy protection and was fortunately purchased by Drymer.  The production of the Mango continues.  Many mangos now have tail extensions to improve aerodynamics.  The company is also producing many aftermarket hoods for the Quest/Strada family of velomobiles.  It is rumored that Sinner may also be working on a hood for the DF.

Katanga – took over production of the WAW from Feitser.be in 2012 and started manufacturing in the Czech republic, the first WAW produced by Katanga had the serial number 135 and increased production rate, since then Katanga produced some 100 WAW.  Katanga also made improvements to the WAW, v 2.0 including an opening for ventilation in the nose.  By the end of 2014, Katanga has produced approximately 100 WAW and roughly 50 units in 2014.

Byess now that the production of the smaller Evo-Ks is well established, now the company is proceeding with the development of the Kx,, a larger version of the Evo-K that will be similar in size to the DF-XL  While relatively absent in North America, the Evo-K continues to be popular especially in Germany.  Byess does not publish production figures.

Raderwerk - I could not find much information of the Milan, production, maybe this will prompt some people to provide information.  Further complicating this analysis, is the fact that several Milan are purchased as kits to be assembled by the owner.  After introducing the <20kg Milan CAS in 2013, the company started the development of the Milan 4.2, a two-seater velomobile, with pedals only for the front rider and improvements to the GT referred to as the Mk3 but information on these is very scant.  

Velomobiles.ca Steve Schleicher spent several months building molds to produce the Milan GT and Milan SL for the North-American market.  Steve made several design improvements and adaptations to the original design and after significant months fine-tuning the design he started production of the Milan GT and SL for the North-American market, production of the first units.  In addition to the GT and SL, velomobiles.ca identified a demand and started development of a larger Milan GT currently nicknamed the XL.  This model is designed to be able to accommodate larger riders who are still looking for performance and comfort.  Steve uses a different production technique for the Milan and it is not clear if he will include some of the refinements of the newer models or if this will be similar to the Alleweder where each manufacturer made their own version.

Leiba produces several velomobile models including the Leiba Classic, the breeze, the X-tream and the X-Stream XXL designed for larger rider.  In 2014, the company designed a new more performing velomobile, the Leiba Record.  The new model did well in the recent roll-down tests in Germany.  The German manufacturer does not publish production information.

Velomobiles.de is a large dealer of velomobiles that also produces the Leiba Cargo, an urban velomobile with a large area at the back of the rider that can be used to carry cargo or people behind.  The cargo/passenger area is equipped with a large door. While the velomobile is fairly aerodynamic, it comes equipped with a 36V motor.  This motor may be required to effectively push the 50kg velomobile when it is fully loaded to the maximum total weight of 170kg as it is not clear if the average rider can do this under pedal power.

Alligt.nl – The company continues to produce velomobiles including several versions of the Alleweder  such as the classic bestseller aluminum AAW4,  and the plastic versions AAW6 and AAW7.  The company also produces the Sunrider II, avelomobile that has a self-supporting frame and shell with hood.  The Sunrider is mostly sold with electric assist.  The Sunrider can be purchased as a kit and is then referred to as the AAW9 but this version cannot be offered with the powerful electric motor.  The company also manufactures several components that find their way into velomobiles produced by other manufacturers.  Alligt, probably inspired by the Q4W, is currently testing a Sunrider with four wheels where the rear wheel was replaced by a two wheel module, something relatively easy as the Sunrider like the AAW have an mostly open rear wheel and drivetrain.

Marvelo – After a break, Jon confirmed that he is now working on the tooling for the production of the SKR, we should see the first ones on the road in 2015.  This would be the first commercial velomobile completely designed and built in North America.

Velomobielonderdelen.nl– Wim Schermer has been overseeing the development of a new type of delta velomobile that is highly streamlined and tilts to provide better cornering ability.  After a long development Wim introduced the prototype Velotilt .  The prototype will provide a riding platform to further the development before it can be put into production., in particular, the tilt lock mechanism has to be tested.  Beyond the Velotilt, Wim is still offering several aftermarket parts to improve the performance of the Quest/Strada/Mango family of velomobiles.  In 2014 he introduced smaller, lighter and more aerodynamic hoods. for the Quest/Strada/Mango.

Pterovelo After a successful crossing of the USA during ROAM, we expected that Frans would soon be offering his velomobile commercially.  After a few years of refinement, last year Frans produced a second prototype of the fully enclosed velomobile with a full suspension.  This velomobile is probably the only road velomobile in production with 16in front wheels. Hopefully the production of the Pterovelo will start in 2015., making this the only production velomobile in the USA.

Trisled – The company manufactures trikes, velomobiles, and streamliners for both the road and the track .  In 2014, they continued to produce the Rotovelo, the Rotovelo Carbon and the Avatar plus a large number of racing velomobiles for the Australian Pedal Prix circuit.  Trisled does not publish production information so I have no easy to evaluate production levels.  These designers are also very active for the WHSPC (Battle Mountain) where they are dominating the trike category with the Overzealous velomobiles.

Flevobike - The production of the Orca continues in the Netherlands.  This innovative velomobile is only sold in Europe.  There are no production figures for the Orca.

Cycle JV Fenioux, probably one of the largest velomobile dealer from France has introduced two new velomobiles in 2014: the Le Mans and the Mulsanne both French designs.  The first is a tadpole with the large wheels (559) outside of the shell with no suspension.   This provides additional stability and commonality of all wheels makes it easier for spares.  You can preorder the LeMans for delivery in 2015.  The Mulsanne is a more traditional velomobile design (406 front and 559 rear) somewhat inspired by Piximatic’s own designs.   Development is currently taking place but the prototype has not yet been introduced, only CAD renderings are available.  Cycle JV is asking visitors of their website if they would be interested in the acquiring the Mulsanne.  While they can be ridden without the hood, both designs are fully enclosed. 

Velayo – According to the company website, the production of the minimalistic German Velayo velomobile with large wheels has ended at the end of 2013.

Several other manufacturers are starting to introduce new velomobiles notably Veloschmitt introduced a “retro” looking velomobile resembling the Messerschmitt cabin scooter.  The company produced several preproduction models for a number of tradeshows where they created quite a buzz. The velo offers room for a passenger at the back similar to the Milan 4.2 and is equipped with electrical assist. 

The company may have had a setback in August when the original designer Achim Adlfinger left the company for personal and financial reasons.  According to the company’s website, there may also be issues with3rd parties claiming they have production rights or licenses to the current vehicle something denied by the company.  It is not clear if and when production will start.

Shells:

Shells provide an easier entry point for new riders by transforming a trike into a velomobile.  A number of trike owners are building their own shells from Coroplast and other materials but the manufactured shells offer sturdier construction and have potential to provide better aerodynamics.

Velomobiles.ca – The British Columbia manufacturer still advertises the Borealis shells for Ice Trikes but it is not clear if any were produced this year.

Velocity Velos continued to sell shells for trikes this year.  Their different models offer improved aerodynamics and weather protection for trike riders. While several people reported buying one of their shells, there is no report on the number produced or sold.

Adderley Engineering Management – The company announced the Aero Bullet Velomobile Body Kit in 2013 and the company started delivery of the sub $1,000 shell this year.  The inexpensive shell can be adapted to several trike models but does not have a floor, wheel wells or enclosed cockpit.  Several people reported that they had received their shell and were mounting them on their trikes.  Several of them appear to build floor and wheel wells using material such as Coroplast to achieve better aerodynamics and weather protection.

Leitra - The grand daddy of velomobiles, Carl Rassmussen still offers several versions of the Leitra.  The Avancee and Thunderstorm are still being produced and can be adapted to several trikes.  It provides good weather protection and some aerodynamic improvements.

Velomobiles.de - The German dealer is offering a simple but attractive carbon shell for the KMX trike called El Loco.  The open cockpit shell encloses the rider and has a CF roll bar but not the rear wheel and drivetrain.   The shell can be fully equipped with electric accessories.  The shell can be purchased as a shell or a fully assembled velomobile (trike included) or as a shell for a DIY project.  The relatively low entry cost provides a good option for KMX riders to consider an upgrade.

Steintrikes produces the Interceptor, a shell for the Mungo trike.

Italian Dream Cycle – The Italian company introduced a shell for the KMX trike called the Zephyrus. 

Ocean Cycle - The company made the Challenger for the ICE Sprint but it was reported that the manufacturing rights were sold to Eurocircuits (http://trike4share.com/) a Hungarian company and transfer was made by the end of August 2014, and the shell will be made to fit the Abzub Tricon Trike but the Ocean Cycle page is still offering the Challenger for Ice trikes.

Arcus velomobile – The Finnish manufacturer introduced the Arcus, which is a shell for the ICE trike.  This product is probably better adapted for urban riding.

Accessories:

Sturmey-Archer is now producing hubs with dynamo and drum brakes.  They are available in 70mm and 90mm versions.

Other

Piximatic.net, the website showing stylish and futuristic velomobile design has been shut down.  The site made some of the design files available for download and last year at least one person created a velomobile based on one of the design.  The designer was involved in the development of a new velomobile to be produced in France.


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