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Pedal-Powered Bio-Hybrid Cyclecar Splits From Schaeffler In MBO, Promises 2021 Debut

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Cyclecar on bridge

Bio-Hybrid cyclecar.

Schaeffler/Bio-Hybrid

German medical technology firm Meisterwerk Ventures has partnered with the management team of Nuremberg- and Berlin-based Bio-Hybrid, a micromobility venture within the Schaeffler Group of automotive supply companies, to buy the start-up from its parent firm.

Schaeffler started development work on a four-wheel electric cycle car in late 2017. No financial details of the deal have been revealed, although a statement said all 25 jobs in Nuremberg and Munich would be retained.

The new management team will work alongside Meisterwerk’s two existing start-ups: Midge Medical, which is working on technology for mobile COVID-19 genetic testing, and AICURA Medical, which is developing an AI-based health platform.

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Meisterwerk ventures is owned by five venture capital partners, including Gerald Vollnhals, formerly of Schaeffler’s Bio-Hybrid division. Vollnhals has become the managing director of Bio-Hybrid GmbH.

Bio-Hybrid’s micro vehicle “combines the freedom and maneuverability of a bicycle with the carrying capacity and weather protection of a small car,” claims the company.

Like the recently proposed electric cyclecar from the German bicycle brand Canyon, the Bio-Hybrid is a pedal-powered electric vehicle that can be driven without a driver’s license on cycleways.

A Bio-Hybrid statement said production of its vehicle—which will have cargo, passenger and pick-up versions—will start in the second quarter of 2021 with expected initial sales in “four digits,” continued the statement.

“The concept closes the gap between bicycles and cars,” said Vollnhals.

The vehicle will sit in two EU classes: the e-bike class, with a maximum speed limit of 15mph, and the 50mph L7E scooter class. Micro vehicles are becoming common in European cities with models already on the road, including the Renault Twizzy, the Carver tricycle car, and the Canta microcar, a two-seater often seen on Dutch cycleways. 

The Schaeffler Group was formed in 2003 when ball bearing maker FAG joined forces with automotive supply companies INA and LuK. In 2019, Schaeffler generated sales of approximately €14.4 billion.

FAG was started in 1875 by bicycle mechanic Friedrich Fischer of Schweinfurt, who began a quest to produce better ball bearings for the cycles he produced in the cycle shop he had opened three years earlier. Importing balls from England—where the technology had been perfected—was expensive, and in 1883 he produced his first ball-grinding machine.

By 1887, the six ball-grinding machines in his First Automatic Cast Steel Ball Factory were mass-producing geometrically perfect balls for bearing races.

In 1896, “Ball-Fischer” sold his bicycle shop. By now, his expanded factory was producing five million balls each week. His company became Fischer AG or FAG, and when it later started to supply the nascent automobile industry, it grew to become one of the world’s major producers of ball bearings.

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