It's Always Leg Day in This Pedal-powered Audi A4 Avant

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

It’s an idea that seems stupid and brilliant all at once, and a Dutch firm wants it to find a home in Europe’s passenger cars.

Europeans, often portrayed in films as sexy people with a penchant for rich foods and impeccably fashionable clothing, aren’t immune from the sedentary lifestyles and obesity afflicting their Western compatriots. Commutes eat up a lot of time, and not everyone bikes or takes a train to work — even in insufferably progressive Amsterdam.

Following a request from an inventor looking to free up more exercise time during the day, Dutch engineering firm BPO set about converting an Audi A4 wagon to run on pedal power. The car’s turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder still does the work, but it won’t work if the driver doesn’t break a sweat.

A profile in Wards Auto describes how inventor Nasser Al Shawaf compelled the firm to turn an Audi AV Avant into the FitCar PPV concept. BPO’s modifications aren’t brand-specific — the company wants anyone who feels trapped by a lengthy commute to have the ability to convert their own car to pedal power. You’ll just need an automatic transmission. Currently, BPO is waiting on European approval.

The setup strips out both pedals, relocating the brake to a steering column-mounted arm (like those used by people with mobility issues). In place of the accelerator is a bicycle-type mechanism that occupies the footwell. Pedalling the thing spins a flywheel, generating an electronic pulse to engage the accelerator. Pedal faster, and the car goes faster.

“I work in many cities around the world where a 60-minute-plus car commute each way, each day is not uncommon,” Al Shawaf said. “This is an unhealthy way to waste more than two hours every day. So I came up with the idea of the FitCar, which does exactly the same as any conventional car getting us safely and comfortably from A to B. However, in the FitCar you can exercise while you drive.”

The company claims there are three drive modes to accommodate low-speed traffic situations, high speed cruising, and sitting at rest (the driver/pedaller can disconnect at stoplights and in traffic jams to keep the workout going). Pedal resistance is also adjustable.

At first blush, it seems gimmicky and potentially dangerous. How is a driver supposed to respond instantly at times when an immediate foot-to-the-floor burst of speed is required? That’s unknown. Certainly, a video posted to YouTube by FitCar PPV shows a pretty leisurely cruise around a racetrack. The test car also contains a very flat bottomed racing wheel with no airbag to accommodate the driver’s busy legs.

Oscar Brocades Zaalberg, managing director of BPO, hopes that the EU gives its system the thumbs-up. He then hopes OEMs take note and offer the system as an option. It’s safe to say the individual modification route is a safer bet.

[Image: FitCar PPV/ YouTube]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Jpolicke Jpolicke on Oct 06, 2018

    Nice, but I'm waiting for the fire truck like I had when I was 6.

  • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Oct 07, 2018

    Okay, so I had a particularly exhausting day at work. Now I have to pedal home, great! Because I can't skip the gym if I'm too tired or in pain for some reason (fell and bruised my legs, dropped something on my foot, whatever). And, lest we forget, nobody wants a manual transmission anymore because heavy traffic makes it too much work. So, let's replace that with a freaking pedal system. That's way better.

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  • Varezhka And why exactly was it that Tesla decided not to coat their stainless steel bodies, again? My old steel capped Volant skis still looks clean without a rust in sight thanks to that metal vapor coating. It's not exactly a new technology.
  • GIJOOOE “Sounds” about as exciting as driving a golf cart, fake gear shifts or not. I truly hope that Dodge and the other big American car makers pull their heads out of the electric clouds and continue to offer performance cars with big horsepower internal combustion engines that require some form of multi gear transmissions and high octane fuel, even if they have to make them in relatively small quantities and market them specifically to gearheads like me. I will resist the ev future for as long as I have breath in my lungs and an excellent credit score/big bank account. People like me, who have loved fast cars for as long as I can remember, need a car that has an engine that sounds properly pissed off when I hit the gas pedal and accelerate through the gears.
  • Kcflyer libs have been subsidizing college for decades. The predictable result is soaring cost of college and dramatic increases in useless degrees. Their solution? More subsidies of course. EV policy will follow the same failed logic. Because it's not like it's their money. Not saying the republicans are any better, they talk a good game but spend like drunken sailors to buy votes just like the libs. The sole function of the U.S. government is to take money from people who earn it and give it away to people who didn't.
  • CecilSaxon Sounds about as smart as VW's "SoundAktor"