If you’ve read my reporting on electric vehicles, you’ll know I think plug-in electrics are the future (the distant future? – ed.). But some companies are putting product out too early, just to say they did it. Behold the world’s most expensive production scooter, the BMW C Evolution, introduced April 30th for the European market after a long development process.
It shouldn’t be a shock (heh, heh) that BMW released a production electric scooter. It’s also one of the first automotive companies to build an all-new, battery-electric vehicle from the wheels up (as opposed to just electrifying an existing internal-combustion vehicle), and utilized similar technology with the C.
If you don’t follow the wide world of scooters, you should know that BMW re-entered the scooter market for 2013 with the C 650 GT and C 600 Sport, creating an “urban mobility” line. That group of products will be environmentally friendly, fun to ride and generally take advantage of cities getting more congested—and affluent. An electric vehicle also makes a lot of sense in that environment, no?
The C evolution looks a lot like the C 600, but it shares little besides design language and a few parts. Instead of that Kymco-built 600cc gasoline engine, it uses a liquid-cooled permanent-magnet synchronous motor with a peak output of 47 horsepower, good for a (limited) top speed of 75 mph. An air-cooled 8 kilowatt-hour, lithium-ion battery is housed in a cast aluminum structure that makes up the main component of the frame. Range is claimed at 62 miles (no word on if that’s city or highway riding), and recharge time from a 220 outlet is four hours. ABS and a traction-control system called “Torque Control Assist” come standard. BMW also seems proud of offering a regeneration system that charges the battery when coasting as well as braking.
It’s studded with luxury features. The tall back end is due to a large bucket under the passenger seat big enough for a helmet, and a full-color TFT display shows energy capacity, discharge rate, range to empty, regeneration and other useful data. Heated grips are standard, as are four riding modes, including one called “sail” that suppresses the regen so the rider can coast freely on trailing throttle. And to handle the heft of the 590-pound electro-behemoth, there’s even a reverse mode to help back out of parking spaces—something shorties will appreciate, given the 30.7-inch seat.
Here’s the breath-taking part: European prices are around 15,000 Euros, almost $21,000 in actual money(assuming a direct conversion of Euros to U.S. dollars is indicative of the potential U.S. price, which is frequently not the case – the U.S. price is often lower, and sometimes much lower – ed). Yikes. That’s a lot more than even the highest-spec Zero, which has more than double the range, a lower seat, is about 190 pounds lighter and tops out at over 100 mph. the Brammo Empulse is also cheaper and better-performing. To be fair, European countries include taxes and other fees in MSRP, and there may be incentives available that would bring the numbers closer to Zero and Brammo’s.
It’s still overpriced, and the problem is BMW has been developing the C evolution for several years now, an eternity in the EV world. That makes me think this is more an elaborate and expensive marketing exercise than an actual attempt to grab market share. I’m told by a source that BMW North America isn’t interested in bringing the C here, but you can bet this won’t be BMW’s last attempt at an electric two-wheeler.
Gabe Ets-Hokin is the Editor of CityBike Magazine, and a frequent contributor to MotorcycleDaily.com