The popularity of electric bikes is forecasted to be the largest growing electric vehicle segment, with an estimated 130 million being sold by 2025. Bob Vander Woude, a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Conscious Commuter, is positioning his company to play a central role in that upcoming demand. Conscious Commuter, based in Portland, Ore. was founded by Vander Woude and designer Gabriel W artTheofsky to bring commuters a better designed, folding e-bike. “Conscious Commuter Corporation was born to help shape the future of urban mobility – to change the way people move around cities for the better,” Vander Woude said in a recent interview with us. “We provide a seamless way to integrate commuting with public transportation for those commuters who are tired of commuting by auto due to high gas prices, traffic congestion, parking, pollution, and a growing sense of eco-consciousness.” Wartofsky came up with the Conscious Commuter folding electric bike design while working on his thesis at Art College of Design. Vander Woude became enchanted with the idea of e-bikes during travels in China and when he saw Wartofsky’s design, he immediately contacted him. They joined forces, fittingly, on Earth Day of this year. Within the start-up’s first eight months, it was chosen as a finalist for the San Jose Cleantech Open, where Vander Woude said the company gained exposure to angel investors, venture capitalists and government agencies that could potentially provide grants down the road. “We have been approached by various investors from the CleanTech open, even though we haven’t yet put together our first outside funding round,” Vander Woude said. The company has also being approached by major automobile and transportation companies, as well as product manufacturers, impressed with the design. Vander Woude said what sets apart their e-bike from others is its intuitive folding design. “Our folding e-bike uses a front hub electric motor (in the front wheel) which is powered by lithium ion batteries, which Gabriel has cleverly designed into the frame of the bike,” Vander Woude said. The result, he said, is a sleeker, cleaner design. One thing the designer feels sets this e-bike apart from others is the lack of a bulky battery pack attached to the bike frame. The folding system allows the bike to fold down to a 25 x 11 x 25-inch size, allowing it to more easily fit under a bus or light rail seat. Designers are targeting the weight of the bike around 25lbs, which make it 20-25lbs lighter than some other e-bikes on the market. The folding bike also has normal pedals and a twist grip shifting system so it can serve as a regular bike for exercise and recreation. The prototypes are being made in the Los Angeles and Pasadena areas by a team of welders and frame designers. 15 of those initial models were sold on Kickstarter, a funding platform for designers, for $1,500 each. The bikes are currently not being mass produced just yet. Vander Woude said when the bikes do come to the market through retailers and their website they will likely be priced around $2,000, which puts them a little less than some other models on the market. The company will first target the U.S. market and then expand to overseas markets like Europe. Conscious Commuter plans to initially launch their sales efforts in the U.S.’ top 70 bike friendly commuting cities. Ultimately, they want to keep production of the e-bikes in the United States. “Long term our goal is to bring back manufacturing jobs and produce them in whatever local markets we are serving, to cut down all the cargo containers and the shipping from overseas,” Vander Woude said. In addition to lessening the carbon footprint by setting up production locally, the company is looking at using recycled aluminum and materials produced in conjunction with hydro power from the Columbia River. Conscious Commuter is targeting their product toward commuters that may not currently ride a bike to work, but see an e-bike as a great alternative. “We are targeting the urban professional commuter, 25-35 years old, environmentally conscious, tech-savvy, urban dwelling professional,” Vander Woude said. Image courtesy of http://www.consciouscommuter.com

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