By on October 5, 2018

Image: FitCar PPV/YouTube

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]

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15 Comments on “It’s Always Leg Day in This Pedal-powered Audi A4 Avant...”

  • avatar

    On the surface, it seems like a good idea. I think a better use of the pedaling would be to help recharge a battery in a PHEV setup. Yes, the gained charge would likely be small but something is better than nothing.

    The downside to this is that the use of our feet to help drive a car is so ingrained in all of us. I can see many accidents happening because the driver tried to “slam on the pedals” in a panic situation instead of remembering to use the steering column-mounted arm.

  • avatar

    One word. Insanity. Accident waiting to happen.

  • avatar

    Another word – Flintstones

  • avatar

    Always thought it would be great to have cycle stations on the train ride home, at least in the afternoon, and have them add to the already-existing batteries.

    But, then what about my day’s end refreshing nap?

  • avatar

    I get up every day at 4am to go to the gym, so I like fitness. The only thing I like about this thing is the Sparco steering wheel, because Sparco.

  • avatar

    This’d be like Starfleet trading in their warp drives for chemical rockets.

  • avatar

    I’ll let Dr. Evil speak for me:

    Those freaky-deaky dutchmen will have to try to keep tight like a tiger in some other way.

  • avatar

    Right. You can focus on pedaling and get that exercise tunnel vision, be more dangerous, not get to work any faster, and still have to shower once you get to work, just like a real bicycle.

  • avatar

    I’m not seeing the advantage over a bicycle.

    • 0 avatar

      Well I think the purpose of this is to have more ways to talk about yourself and your virtues so this will get more attention than a bicycle.

    • 0 avatar

      You can carry four other people (if need be), a weeks worth of groceries, be out of the elements with access to A/C or heat and infotainment options on a bicycle? And go 65 mph or more when not in traffic? You must have one helluva bike.

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    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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