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A Transformers-Inspired EV Bike That Folds Up to Fit Under Your Desk

This electric bike can fold down into the size of a suitcase.

Icoma Tatamel electric bike
The Tatamel Electric Bike by Japanese company Icoma shown off at CES 2023.

Is this electric bike more than meets the eye? There's little risk of confusing the Tatamel with a robot in disguise, but it it isn't often you see an electric bike that can fold up like a Transformer to the size of a suitcase and fit under a desk. At CES 2023, that's exactly what Japanese company Icoma showed off with the Tatamel.

Read more: These are the must-see reveals at CES 2023 so far. Plus, the weirdest products we've seen and the most futuristic gadgets.

Tucked toward the back of a CES event space this week, Icoma showed off a stationary model of the Tatamel on display -- unfortunately, I couldn't cycle around. But the side wooden panels immediately caught the eye, with an engineer demonstrating its foldable nature. Wheels tucked into the side as handle bars unhinged and folded.

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I shouldn't be surprised. The founders, Takamitsu Ikoma and Takuma Ogata, used to work at Takara Tomy, the company that produces Transformers action figures in Japan.  

The Tatamel is more than a last-mile EV. Its electric battery pack can be used to charge devices, which can be handy in an emergency. The changeable side panels can also give pops of personality. The panels can be wooden, metal or solar. Ogata said the design is intentionally simple, so pretty much any square panel can be affixed. On the show floor, Icoma had an LCD screen as one of the panels. Ogata said the side panels can also lift up to act as a makeshift desk.

Last-mile vehicles have seen pulses of popularity over the years but have failed to gain mainstream appeal. Electric skateboard company Boosted became the go-to last-mile vehicles for influencers and Silicon Valley types before shutting down in 2020. Onewheel, a single-wheeled electric board, is refusing to recall its boards even though the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging people not to ride it. Electric scooter rental company Bird, once a Silicon Valley unicorn, saw its stock price plummet last year, trading for well under a dollar. The e-bike industry may be more resilient to past micromobility trends as the market is predicted to grow to $52 billion by 2030, according to Spherical Insights.

The Tatamel, launching this spring in Japan, will cost the equivalent of $4,000. Ogata said there are plans to bring it overseas, but a time frame wasn't given. The motor will be the equivalent of 50cc with a top speed of 25 mph. A torque figure wasn't given, but Ogata said it would be strong. The Tatamel is ideal for weights of 220 pounds or less.