Forget the Apple car, I want an Apple iBike

Apple makes a car. May be. Supposedly. Probably?

Rumors about the legendary Apple Car, codenamed “Project Titan”, have been circulating for more than 6 years now, the project stagnating and pivoting several times.

Now the latest batch of rumors suggest the project is back, this time focusing on a shared self-driving vehicle that may not even have a suitable steering wheel (although a drivable version could also be in use. preperation). Apple is reportedly targeting a launch in 2025.

I’ll admit it, an Apple car would be cool, and I’m very curious to see what Curpertino’s take on an electric vehicle is. But you know what I think would be even more interesting, more impactful and better for the planet than an Apple Car?

An Apple electric bicycle. Or should I say… the iBike?

Before you get blurry vision from rolling your eyes too much, listen to me.

It would be better for the environment

I would bet my bottom dollar that Apple will market its car around environmental benefits. But it only takes a little research – and common sense) to show that e-bikes are a better solution than cars for many places, cities in particular.

While I don’t know of any studies that directly compare the environmental impact of electric cars and electric bikes, we can make educated inferences.

A 2019 white paper from the Transportation Research and Education Center at Portland State University found that the average car in the Portland metro area, taking into account an average occupancy of 1.36 people per car, will produce 274g of CO2 for each person traveling a mile. Public transit emits 140g of CO2 per person-mile.

In comparison, an electric bike emits 4.9g of CO2 per person-mile (assuming it’s charged from non-renewable energy sources).

In a more conservative estimate, a report from the UK – where vehicles are generally smaller and have lower emissions than in the US – e-bikes produce around 23 times less emissions than typical cars. A study by the European Cyclists’ Federation has shown that e-bikes have a carbon footprint around 12 times smaller than cars.

Credit: Cycle Republic via Eco Green Love

While these studies did not specify emissions from electric cars, other research has shown that electric cars tend to have one-quarter to one-third of gasoline vehicle emissions after controlling for load.

That’s great, but far from reducing emissions from riding a bicycle. Whichever way you cut it, it’s obvious that an electric bike has a much lower environmental impact.

Please note, this only takes into account the environmental impact after purchase. Manufacturing emissions are also significant and in this regard an electric bicycle is also significantly better than an electric car. While an electric car of course generates far fewer emissions than a gasoline car over its lifecycle, they currently generate the same or more greenhouse gas emissions during manufacture.

The point is, it’s not even close – e-bikes are a much better fit for the environment where they’re a viable replacement for cars.

Of course, some people will still need cars, but even if an electric bike only replaces half of your car trips, chances are it will have a marked effect on your environmental impact. The aforementioned Portland study showed that a 15% shift from cars to e-bikes would result in an 11% reduction in emissions. Another study found that e-bikes reduced car trips, even among car owners.

And yes, regular bikes have lower emissions than e-bikes, but they’re not as accessible or convenient. In urban and arguably suburban environments, e-bikes are the place to be. Studies have shown that people who use e-bikes tend to ride farther and more often than their analog counterparts, and one study suggests that regular bikes only create about 1g less emissions than e-bikes, even considering the manufacturing.

It would be better for the traffic

A 2019 study in the UK showed that the widespread adoption of electric cars could have a counterintuitive effect: their lower operating costs would ultimately mean more people would buy electric cars, leading to traffic jams. more serious in cities and health problems caused by lack of exercise.

Meanwhile, focusing on “the most energy efficient means of transport,” including walking, cycling and public transport, has the potential to have a greater environmental impact while reducing urban congestion. It doesn’t take much to see how this could drastically reduce noise pollution as well.

And before you complain that bicycles slow cars down, at least one study has shown that the presence of bicycles on streets without a cycle lane only affected average speeds of 1 mph. In any case, ideally, cities would have separate cycling infrastructure, which brings me to my next point …

It would be better for urban infrastructure

The lack of proper cycling infrastructure is one of the biggest barriers to cycling adoption, especially in the United States. Apple could help change that.

I’m not personally a fan of most Apple products, but there are few companies as capable of influencing culture change as Apple. While many companies may have been called “the apple of e-bikes,” there is only one Apple. It’s not hard to imagine what an iBike could mean to improve cycling infrastructure around the world.

On the one hand, people would just buy more bikes in the first place. They would buy an iBike for the simple fact that it is an Apple product. Of course, it also depends on execution, but there are few Apple products that do not excel or dominate the market share in their respective categories.

The popularity, influence and lobbying power of the company could force cities to expand their cycling infrastructure, just as the iPod changed the music industry and the iPhone changed the Internet.

Electric bike company VanMoof, for example, recently announced the Vanmoof V at 31 mph in hopes of sparking a conversation about e-bike speed regulations and infrastructure (the current federal limit in the United States is 28 mph, but in some parts of the country it is 20 mph). It’s a good idea, but I couldn’t help but think about the impact Apple could have had with a similar announcement.

Either way, you don’t have to be an Apple fan to enjoy it. Along with the benefits of improved infrastructure, it would create competition as existing cycling imitators and companies try to capitalize on Apple’s momentum.

It’s better for your health

Since the advent of the Apple Watch, the company has also liked to position itself as a fitness brand. Guess which one makes your heart beat the most: driving a car or riding an electric bike?

If you haven’t ridden an electric bike and think it’s a little better for your health than a motorcycle, several studies have shown that the average rider burns as many or more calories than the typical rider over a period of time. prolonged.

How is that possible, you ask? Simple: cyclists on electric bikes ride their bikes more often. You will likely burn fewer calories per mile, but you will be traveling farther and more frequently than before.

Unless Apple intends to put a treadmill in the Apple car, you won’t get much fitness benefit from it.

An electric car is just … a little boring

While I’m sure Apple’s vision for the electric car is sleek, smart, and futuristic, I find it hard to get excited about an Apple car. It’s hard to imagine what Apple could bring to the table that won’t be covered by other manufacturers.

The point is that the widespread adoption of the electric car is a matter of when, not so. Many countries have already set deadlines for all new car sales to be electric, and every automaker worth its salt is working on its own vision for the EV. Rumors suggest that the Apple Car will have sophisticated autonomous capabilities, but there are also dozens of companies trying to build autonomous vehicles.

With 2025 likely to be the earliest possible year for an Apple car, the company will belatedly enter an increasingly crowded space. I don’t see a scenario in which the company will drastically change the trajectory of global electric vehicle adoption. It is likely that Apple will only take market share from other manufacturers of electric vehicles; the planet could very well be in the same place whether or not Apple enters the fray.

Electric bikes are different. There is incredible room for growth, especially in the United States – where Apple is particularly powerful – and a huge need for innovation.

Aside from the aforementioned infrastructure issues, Apple is exactly the type of company that could make some serious innovations for other issues affecting bicycle adoption, such as road safety and theft.

Imagine a world where an iBike could stop your bike before a car hits you or someone opens the door to the bike path. A world where a “Find My iBike” feature is so common that bike theft becomes unprofitable. Where e-bikes could be speed limited depending on their location – say 28mph in the country or special high-speed bicycle lanes, and 20mph on city streets.

It’s all speculation and dreams, but that’s the sort of thing I hope Apple is.

You can tell me it’s too early to know what impact the Apple Car can have, which I don’t know what features Apple plans to incorporate into its vehicle. Of course you would be right. But for now, it looks like the Apple Car is just another electric car to join the fray. As cheesy as it sounds, an Apple iBike would have a better chance of changing the world.

James C. Tibbs