BMW’s electric future is still far away

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Later this year, BMW will unveil two new maxi-scooters based on the BMW Concept C. Sadly, neither will be electric. Instead, this BMW Concept e previews those bikes’ styling and likely a future zero-emissions scooter. Emphasis on the future, this concept is in no way close to production.

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Of the two maxi-scoots debuting later this year, likely at EICMA, BMW says only that they’ll both use two-cylinder engines. Like this Concept e, they’ll likely adapt the Concept C’s bold styling. This electric scooter, though, moves away from the aggressive angularity into smoother, rounder forms that are immediately reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica space ships.


Those clean shapes represent the intended purpose — something that fits into a slick future — well, but are interrupted by overly fussy detailing. The LED lights are neat, but most of the shapes in them appear function-less. As is the green “afterburner” ahead of the rear wheel. Expect all that nonsense to disappear for production, as will the general purity of the shapes as they’re adapted to meet the realities of production cost and the various international regulations for light viewing angles and license plate placement.

Of technical details, BMW is remarkably vague, saying only that the Concept e has a “realistic” range of around 60 miles. That likely includes a mix of high and low speed driving; BMW is keen to emphasize that the scooter is capable of overtaking on “high speed urban motorways” while carrying a passenger. Confusingly, the company also claims a from-flat recharge time of just three hours from a standard outlet. With most decent-range electric bikes taking six to eight hours to do the same on 110v, we’re guessing they’re talking about using a 220v outlet.

BMW has previously teased details of the electric scooter drivetrain being developed.

We’re impressed with the clean, friendly execution of the design, but a bit disappointed that BMW is still in concept phase with its electric scooter. It’ll soon be 2012, we want to see bikes like this on the road and in showrooms at a realistic price, not on slick white turntables at foreign auto shows.

  • protomech

    A realistic range of 60 miles = 6 kwh.

    Germany’s plugs are 230 V / 16 A. Assuming 90% charge efficiency, that’s up to 3.3 kw into the battery pack.

    Should be no problem to charge in 3 hours, assuming they can package a sufficiently large charger onboard the bike.

  • jeb


    • Tom


  • Jochen

    Well, based on the chit-chat during the BMW Innovations in June 2011 in Munich and all we can hear from Munich these days, this scooter will be in the shops by the end of 2012 ….

  • Jesse

    Cute, I can see the Scooter-Commuters here in Boston humming down Summer Street on one of these. It is way bigger than I was expecting from the first photo.

  • Adrian

    Can’t understand all these EVs with 60-100 mile range. Who wants to ride and then suffer battery anxiety 30 miles from home.

    Manfucturers – Want to build electric vehicles that people will buy? Build them with 150-200 mile range and sub 10 minute recharge times. Until then they are just science experiments.

    • Grant Ray

      I think you’re being a little unreasonable. You can’t blame OEMs for lack of infrastructure. Sub-10 minute recharge times can be done right now, but would require government-apporved connectors to the grid.

      You also can’t expect giant range capabilities to magically appear from tiny battery boxes. This isn’t Star Trek. If we had the consumer tech for that kind of range in such a tiny package, then the military wouldn’t still be using transport vehicles using out-dated engines with the efficiency of a 60′s Eldorado.

    • stempere

      My daily commute is 5.4 miles, why would i want a pricey and heavy 200 miles range vehicule?
      This thing is intended for urban areas and city/suburb commute, if it has detachable batteries they will sell truckloads of these, at least in all major european cities.

    • protomech

      An EV rated for 60 miles is NOT suitable for a trip that takes you 30 miles out from home. Everyone’s tolerance for range anxiety will vary, but I would be uncomfortable planning a trip or regular commute that would take an EV below 20% SOC.

      On a 60 mile EV that means a round trip of 48 miles, which is less than I drive or ride daily most of the time. It’s actually less than the commute for 84% of Americans, per DOT statistics published in 2003.

      If you want to build in some extra miles for errands or trips after work (say 20 miles), the figure drops to around 65%.

      And on those days you want to go hit the back roads for a few hours or go visit mom a hundred miles away? Well, EV bikes aren’t ready for that. And that’s fine – not all vehicles are suitable for all purposes. I’m riding down to Home Depot after work today, renting a truck for $19, and hauling a water heater back to my house. I don’t need to own a truck that spends 99% of its time with an empty bed.


      I’d love to see a 150-200 mile EV bike, and a sub ten minute recharge time. I don’t buy that as a magic requirement though; I believe the acceptance rate will be a gradually increasing one as EV range increases, prices drop, and charging infrastructure becomes more widely available.

      What we’ll probably see by 2020 are $6k 100 mile EV bikes with relatively widespread level 2 charging that can do an 80% charge in 20-30 minutes. I think most people will be happy with that.

  • Jochen

    Jesse, you can find more images of the BMW 2012 E-Scooter here:

    • Jesse

      Now I have e-Battlescooter concepts in my head. Thanks for the link, Jochen.

  • Jochen

    @Adrian: The manufacturers buld for the masses – and the mass of commuters ride approx. 50 miles per day – at least in Europe and Asia. The US – a niche market :-)

    • Adrian

      I think you are right. That’s why I don’t see them ever becoming realistic options for me.

  • Jeff

    It’s a green Honda Cub.

  • Brammofan

    That “after-burner” is likely a cooling fan for the motor and/or charger. What seems odd to me is that the video (hmm, you don’t seem to have the video link yet) showed it turning on at the same time the bike is turned on. Depending on ambient temperatures, I can go for many miles on my Brammo Enertia before my cooling fan kicks on. Ah well, it’s still just a concept.

    • protomech

      The Enertia’s fan is quite loud, and IMO would have benefited from a little more engineering to reduce noise.

      A quieter speed-adjustable fan could turn on as soon as the bike turns on at a low RPM, and keep the bike cooler for a longer period of time. Under heavy load it may well need to ramp up, but it should be able to drop back down quickly at low speeds.

      • Martin

        Loud fans save lives, man. Isn’t that how it goes?

        • protomech

          No. Brammo fans save lives.


          • Brammofan

            +1 :D

        • Adrian

          Only on Buells. ;-)