BMW has announced a new all-electric scooter as part of it’s “electromobility” strategy, with the aim of providing urban dwellers with a souped-up version of the scooters that are already commonly seen on streets.
Released by BMW Motorrad, the company’s motorcycle division, the CE 04 will arrive in Canada early 2022. The model is a replacement for the C Evolution that’s been sold elsewhere in the world for several years, but its air-cooled lithium-ion battery is significantly faster to charge. It’s also lighter and includes more technology to make riding safer.
It won’t be cheap. Exact pricing is not yet revealed, but it will start at about $15,000. There will be options for improved lighting and leaning ABS and leaning traction control, and probably for a quicker dynamic riding mode, too.
The CE 04 is not a small scooter, weighing 231 kg (44 kg less than the C Evolution), though it’s intended for urban transport. Its 31 kW motor is the equivalent of 42 hp and will accelerate from zero-to-50 km/h in 2.6 seconds, so it will not struggle in city traffic. It’s not so swift out on the highway, accelerating from zero-to-100 km/h in 9.1 seconds and with a maximum speed of 120 km/h. A less powerful 23 kW motor (31 hp) is available in other world markets, but not in Canada or the United States.
It has a maximum estimated range of 130 kilometres, which is about 30 km less than its predecessor, but its 8.9 kWh battery (60.6 Ah) can be recharged in a quarter of the time. BMW says it will take 4 hours and 20 minutes to charge the battery from empty to full at a regular 110-volt household socket, but only one hour and 40 minutes at a 220-volt socket. The more important 20-to-80 per cent charge will take 45 minutes at a 220-volt outlet, which is found at a Level 2 charger. It cannot be charged at a Level 3 fast charger.
The 6.9 kW charge cable required for faster charging at a Level 2 outlet will be an optional extra.
There are no other electric scooters available in Canada of the CE 04′s size. Vespa makes the Elettrica, a stylish, smaller machine with a range of 100 km and a 4 kW motor that’s good for a top speed of either 45 km/h or 70 km/h. It takes four hours to fully charge the Vespa’s battery at a 220-volt outlet, and it sells in Canada for $9,400.
The futuristic-looking CE 04 is powerful enough to carry both a rider and a passenger on its long, slim seat, provided they weigh less than 175 kg between them. There is space in its lockable side luggage compartment for a full-face helmet, as well as another lockable compartment in front of the rider’s legs. There’s also a ventilated phone charging compartment, and full connectivity through BMW’s smartphone app that includes mapping software. A full-colour, 10.25-inch high-resolution display screen keeps the rider informed and shows the map, if needed.
The scooter itself is built on a one-piece tubular steel frame, with a single-sided swingarm at the rear and 15-inch wheels front and back. The smaller wheels of a scooter provide nimbler handling on city streets. Traction control and ABS brakes are standard, as is a reverse gear to move the bike backward at a walking pace, which helps with parking.
For all its functional amenities, large scooters have never been a big seller in Canada. Riders of powered two-wheelers usually prefer motorcycles or small and simple scooters. BMW has offered gas-powered variants of its C scooter for a number of years, intended for city riders who like to venture out into the country once in a while, but the CE 04 is focused clearly on urban use.
For this, it’s also competing with the numerous low-powered electric scooters that are officially considered e-bikes, which are usually made in Asia and typically sell for less than $2,000. The BMW is a different machine entirely, but ultimately it serves the same purpose: to transport its rider from one place to another using only electrical power.
Scooters of all types are challenged in Canadian cities because they are seasonal transportation, open to the rain and cold. Local regulations do not allow them to share the lane with other vehicles. Like a motorcycle, it is illegal for them to filter alongside other traffic in the same lane, so they cannot move past a line of cars as they do in most of the rest of the world. This means they offer little advantage over cars and SUVs as transport in congested cities, though they are easier and cheaper to park.
In some of the world’s most congested cities, such as London and Paris, there is a substantial tax on gas-powered vehicles entering the downtown core, while there is no charge for an electric car or scooter. North American cities have considered similar penalties, though none has yet enacted such legislation.
As well, in most Canadian provinces, riders of scooters of at least 50cc must have a motorcycle licence, which is a deterrent to many people who just want a simple and efficient powered vehicle for getting around.
Time will tell if there’s a market in Canada for an all-electric scooter like the CE 04, but the demand for electrification is increasing exponentially. BMW is betting the market will show itself sooner than many expect.