Pi Mobility was founded by Marcus Hays in 2000. Marcus’s electric vehicle industry experience dates to 1995 and the launch of California Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate. The mandate incorporated two dedicated research and development incubation centers operated under the auspices of Calstart.
It was at Calstart where Marcus was introduced to automotive industry titan, Lee Iacocca who later employed Marcus as a consultant. Marcus also had the extraordinary privilege of working with the famed Dr. Paul MacCready, inventor and developer of GM's first electric car, "EV-1." Hays attributes much of the inspiration and credit of the PiCycle™ to these individuals. Marcus in his own right has achieved numerous industry firsts including establishing an electric motorcycle land speed record at the Bonneville Land Speed Record Trials in 2008. Today Pi Mobility has a significant number of highly talented individuals working collaboratively to solve one of the world’s largest environmental problems, i.e., the tailpipe emissions of gasoline and kerosene fueled mopeds and scooters. Many of these produce as much as 500 times the emissions of a contemporary automobile and create an enormous carbon footprint.
Electric bikes, on the other hand, produce 0 emissions, achieve 2000MPG equivalent, and are perhaps the most efficient form of transportation. When Hays first encountered these hybrid vehicles, most models were imported from a variety of countries, especially China. The bikes typically relied on an injection molding manufacturing process, which produced parts made of a variety of thermoplastics. While initially pleasing in appearance, the plastic parts raised questions of reliability and tended toward unsightly discolorations and dangerous cracks. All too often, those bikes were simply discarded.
“As an advocate for electric bikes, I felt these problems had to be solved. Reducing an electric bicycle to its essential purpose made the arch a logical outcome. And while I am grateful that people appreciate the design, the pure design aspect of Pi Cycle is almost inconsequential to me. The value of a machine in society is determined by its function. Not just how it operates, but how it repairs, how it services, how it rides, etc. So while some may find the arch beautiful to look at, it’s the function of the arch that is of keen interest to me.", says Hays.To efficiently produce a more reliable and environmentally friendly electric bike, PiMobility took a decidedly minimalist approach. For Hays and his team, the longer a product will last is a key factor in making it more sustainable. Rather than rely on brittle plastics for a multitude of parts, PiMobility used an elegant, solitary arch of recycled aluminum for its bikes’ instantly iconic frame. Not only does recycled aluminum last considerably longer than plastic, the batteries and electronic components reside safely within the aluminum tube rather than an injection-molded plastic battery enclosure, better protecting them from the elements and providing more efficient heat dissipation.
Thanks to the less labor-intensive design of the single tube, Pi Mobility has been able to maintain production in the United States and still be profitable.
“We can create smaller volumes wherever there are enough Pi riders, and be profitable. For a small company like ours, that means much better quality control and throughput. We can form a tube in about 30 seconds, and with the help of Autodesk software, changes to the design can be embedded very quickly and new products can be brought to market faster. Our manufacturing method offers very rapid scale at competitive prices, but it also reduces the required labor to a fraction of more traditional electric bikes. By producing our bikes locally, much of the transportation carbon that often affects even environmentally sustainable goods can be eliminated.”The company’s testing program makes durability and sustainability its top priorities, but also considers aesthetic value. From durability, sustainability, appearance, carbon footprint, handling, fun, performance, health, cost, design innovation, and integration with modern technology, Pi Mobility seeks to create vehicle solutions of unmatched value.