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At last, putting pedals to the metal – the Audi FitCar

  • FitCar PPV (Pedal Powered Vehicle) out in Netherlands
  • Works on most vehicles, yet a unique concept
  • Turn sedentary commutes into active gym time

DELFT, Netherlands – The image above is of the FitCar PPV. You pedal it along. Really. While at the steering-wheel and burning the calories that would have gone to your waistline by the time you reached the office car-park.

Just like a bicycle, the faster you want to go the faster you pedal against mild resistance.

Saudi-based inventor Nasser Al Shawaf, with Dutch engineering partner BPO, has developed the world’s first calorie-burning car.

IN THE DRIVING SEAT: Conventional accelerator and brake have been removed from the driver's footwell and replaced by a set of bicycle-like pedals. Praking is achieved with the lever to the right of the steering-wheel. Image: Supplied
IN THE DRIVING SEAT: Conventional accelerator and brake have been removed from the driver’s footwell to be replaced by a set of bicycle-like pedals. Braking is achieved with the lever to the right of the steering-wheel. Image: Supplied

The FitCar PPV prototype #2 is based on a standard Audi A4 Avant 2.0 petrol TFSI auto. The car’s accelerator has been replaced with a bicycle pedal mechanism, mated to a flywheel which in turn generates an electronic pulse to engage the accelerator.

‘COMMUTING IS UNHEALTHY’

The car is powered as normal, delivering its maker’s specification performance and economy but governed by an active pedalling motion instead of the conventional accelerator depression.

To make space for the bicycle/flywheel mechanism the brake-pedal has been replaced by a simple, off-the-shelf, hand-controlled, conversion as used in ”motability” vehicles – PC euphemism for machines used by crippled people.

SAFE, COMFORTABLE – HEALTHY

Al Shawaf explained: “I work in many cities around the world where an hour+ commute, each way, each day, is not uncommon. Clearly an unhealthy way to waste more than two hours every day.

”So, I came up with the FitCar – which does exactly the same as a conventional car in terms of getting us safely and comfortably from A to B. Except the driver exercises while driving.

READ MORE Audi features on Carman’s Corner

”Our studies suggest a calorie burn-rate of more than 300 per 30 minutes. We’re increasingly time-poor, and unfit, so the FitCar PPV provides at least part of the solution for those of us who wish to exercise while driving.

”I’m really proud of the result.”

THE FIT CAR: WIthout the identity all over the bodywork, the grown-ups pedal car would be the real thing. Image: Supplied
THE FIT CAR: Without the identity all over the bodywork, the grown-ups pedal car would be the real thing. Image: Supplied

Founder and managing director of BPO, Oscar Brocades Zaalberg, told The Corner in a media release: “This was two years in the making. We started with a simple ‘buck’ for demos then tried it out for real on a Mercedes SmartCar.

”The A4 Avant was then chosen for its cockpit ergonomics which permit a comfortable cycling position. Our ambition is for the technology to be either adopted by an automaker for a new generation of ‘healthier’ city cars or for us simply to offer it as a conversion kit.

”It’s intuitive, easy to control, and safe – I would encourage everybody to give it a try.”

Three simple settings:

  • Drive Slow’ – when in slow city traffic
  • Drive Fast – for highway speeds
  • No Drive – if in stalled traffic but wishing to continue pedalling

A simple rotary dial will adjust pedal resistance – light through to heavy.

Oscar added: “The concept has been tried by many people in the Netherlands – and several options suggested:

    • Regenerative braking, or a design to fold the pedals for normal driving
    • An App to go with the PPV to maximise calorie-burn and efficiency
    • Introduction of various routes with challenges among a community of web-linked followers.

FitCar PPV has been patented internationally and is awaiting approval in the Netherlands for road use across Europe.

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