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AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideGeneral Motors designed this electric bicycle, which folds up for portability, especially for urban commuters. It will arrive in 2019.(Photo: General Motors)It might sound counterintuitive for a car company to make a product that serves as an alternative to cars.But that’s exactly what General Motors is doing.GM has designed two electric bicycles and plans to sell them beginning in 2019.The company joins ride-hailing app companies Uber and Lyft as well as rival automaker Ford in trying to capitalize on the surging market for bikes as a form of urban transportation.An e-bike is a bicycle that uses a small battery-powered electric motor to assist in pedaling, enabling easy riding up hills and over flat terrain. Fans say e-bikes provide a realistic alternative to driving and a sweat-free alternative to traditional bicycle commuting.GM announced the e-bikes Friday along with a contest asking the public to name them for the chance to win $10,000. The company, which already makes electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Bolt, showed off an e-bike concept in 2015 but has said little about the project since then.General Motors designed this compact electric bicycle especially for urban commuters. It will arrive in 2019. (Photo: General Motors)”We’re looking at e-bikes as one other form of transportation that really gives customers freedom of movement,” Jennifer Cathcart, e-bike marketing manager for General Motors, said in an interview. They are “bikes designed for urban commuters, as opposed to recreation.”More: Uber acquires Jump dockless bike-sharing serviceMore: GM, Honda to collaborate to deliver self-driving cars for ‘global deployment’More: Lyft, Uber can pay more than $2,000 a month but there are conditionsGM’s entry into the bicycling business comes amid a surge of bike-sharing networks in urban markets throughout the U.S.Earlier this year, Uber acquired dockless e-bike start-up Jump, then added bike-sharing options to its app in certain markets. And Lyft earlier this year acquired bike-share network operator Motivate, whose operations include New York’s Citi Bike network and the Ford-branded GoBike program in San Francisco.A surge in dockless bikes, which can be rented using a smartphone, has fueled a rise in nationwide bike-sharing. Bike-sharing competitors include Limebike, MoBike, Ofo and Spin.The U.S. had more than 100,000 bikes in ride-sharing networks at the end of 2017, more than double a year earlier, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.General Motors designed this electric bicycle, which folds up for portability, especially for urban commuters. It will arrive in 2019. (Photo: General Motors)GM is not revealing details about its plans for e-bikes, including whether they’ll be deployed in ride-sharing networks. The company also won’t comment on where it will manufacture the bikes or how it will sell them, saying only that it will say more next year.The automaker has developed two bikes: one compact version and one that folds up for the sake of portability.”The e-bike is one more way in which General Motors is thinking about creating this vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” Cathcart said.Cathcart declined to discuss the genesis of the idea.But she said the bikes would be equipped with “integrated safety features,” including rechargeable front and rear LEDs, as well as “really cool connectivity features that will help you navigate through the city.”GM’s e-bike motor is a “proprietary drive system” that was “built from the ground up by our team,” she said.The company believes e-bikes will appeal to a wide range of commuters.”When you ride on an e-bike, it feels like the wind is always at your back, whether you are going on a flat road or whether you are going up the biggest hill,” she said, adding, “and you never worry about whether you’re going to make it up that steep hill.”Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2018/11/02/gm-ebike-general-motors/1849227002/Find New & Used CarsNew CarsUsed CarsofPowered by Cars.com