The 2014 BMW C evolution may not look like or perform like a Mission RS or Brammo Empulse, but it'll achieve something those bikes from boutique brands cannot: volume sales. This maxi scooter is the first production electric two-wheeler from a major manufacturer.
We first got wind that BMW was developing an electric scooter way back in 2010, with the Concept C. That model teased the C evolution's electric motivation and the styling of the now-released BMW C 600 Sport and C 650 GT. Then, last year, we saw the C evolution in "near production prototype" form. Now, just released at the Frankfurt Motor Show, is the C evolution that will go on-sale some time next year.
The C evolution isn't just a C 600 Sport with batteries stuck in where the engine should be. Despite the styling similarities, it's a ground-up electric vehicle. The steel battery cases serve as the chassis, running under the floorboard and connecting the conventional forks to the rear swingarm and its left-side monoshock. Nor does BMW cheap out with a motor mounted in the wheel hub (an arrangement that drastically increases unsprung weight), instead mounting the electric motor on the swingarm, in conventional scooter form, then driving the rear wheel via a belt.
That electric motor develops a continuous 15bhp, good for a 75mph top speed, but can peak at up to 47bhp. Combined with 53lb-ft of torque — more than a 600cc supersport bike develops — acceleration is very strong. 0-62mph takes 6.2 seconds.
The 8kWh battery capacity is said to be good for "over 62 miles" of range in realistic city driving conditions while a typical European 220v/12a outlet can charge the battery from flat to full in four hours.
As you'd expect from a futuretastic BMW, the technology doesn't stop there. To maximize range, they're strongly pushing regenerative braking, packaging verious levels of regen into four different, user selectable riding modes:
Road mode: full accelerating power is available here, while energy is recuperated at a rate of approx. 50% when coasting with the throttle closed. Recuperation takes place during braking as well. The standard operating range is achieved in this mode. Eco Pro mode: the drag torque when coasting is increased significantly in this mode and a maximum recuperation rate together with the restricted accelerating power and the resulting limit on energy output enables the range to be extended by 10-20%. The higher drag torque manifests itself for the rider as a sharper decelerating torque when the throttle is released. The highest range is achieved in this ride mode. Sail mode: in this mode, the electric motor does not build up drag torque and recuperation only takes place when braking. As a result, riders will notice that next to no braking torque is generated when the throttle is released, allowing the vehicle to glide along virtually free of any braking effect – a riding experience that is unheard of on conventionally powered two-wheelers. Dynamic mode: for extra-dynamic performance, this mode combines full accelerating power with a sharp rate of recuperation and therefore a high level of drag torque.
There's also a form of traction control that BMW is calling "Torque Control Assist." It monitors wheels speeds, stepping in to cut torque if the rear spins up faster than the front and also if the regenerative braking causes enough drag to reduce rear wheel traction. As with all other bikes in the BMW lineup, ABS is standard.
A large, full-color TFT display does the usual instrumentation stuff, also displaying, "power output in kW, average consumption in kWh/100 km, total power consumption, battery charge status, average speed, voltage of the onboard electrical system and the high-voltage system, and the remaining range in kilometres taking into account the selected ride mode."
All external lighting is handled by LEDs; an excellent choice for an electric vehicle due to their low power draw and great for city riding thanks to their extreme brightness.
In another dose of Teutonic practicality, heated grips are standard.
Price and availability are TBA, stay tuned to RideApart for updates.