BMW is trying to reclaim its mantle as a leader in electric mobility. As part of a suite of announcements outlining the German automaker’s latest products, BMW revealed a bold new electric scooter concept: the Motorrad Definition CE 04.
In true concept form, the company hasn’t released any specs, and it hasn’t said if or when it will turn into a real motorcycle that people can buy. But BMW said its aim is to “redefine the scooter segment” — and you can’t very well do that without putting something into production.
Most notably, the Motorrad Definition CE 04 (god, what a mouthful) has a design straight out of a William Gibson novel. The elongated, low vehicle body and the diagonally rising front end create a clean break from the look of scooters as we know them. The battery (size unknown) lies flat in the underbody, creating more space for storage. For example, a helmet can be stashed away in a hidden compartment below the seat.
BMW said it deliberately staged the bike’s technology as part of the design, which is why the side panels don’t completely cover the vehicle’s rear section. That hint of the scooter’s internal mechanics gives the CE 04 a more industrial feel than your average Vespa.
“A scooter is not a ‘fun bike’ which is taken for ride in the mountains in fine weather, but a practical everyday vehicle for driving from home to the office or meeting friends in the evening - simply a vehicle for every day in the city,” says Alexander Buckan, who heads BMW’s Motorrad division, in a statement.
The German automaker has been hard at work developing a whole crop of battery-powered two-wheeled vehicles. Last year, it revealed the “Motorrad Vision DC Roadster,” an electric motorcycle concept that looks as close to road-ready as almost anything the company has shown before.
But with the CE 04, BMW is building on its fairly practical C Evolution electric motor scooter, first released in 2014. Over the last half-decade, BMW upgraded the C Evolution enough that it offered 100 miles of range per charge and a top speed of 80 miles per hour. With a retail price of nearly $14,000, though, the C Evolution became little more than a sort of limited-run test bed for the electric future of BMW’s Motorrad division.
But it’s been obvious that BMW wants to do bigger and better things with an electric mobility division. In 2016, BMW went all-out with the Vision Motorrad Next 100 concept bike, which looked like it came straight from the set of a superhero movie. And in 2017, BMW showed off the Motorrad Concept Link, which was like a more futuristic version of the C Evolution. The Motorrad Definition CE 04 is in line with this design evolution.
BMW will have a lot of competition if and when it decides to move the CE 04 out of the concept category and into the realm of reality. There are a variety of relatively inexpensive motor scooters available today and more on the way. China’s NIU started selling its electric moped in the US this year. NIU’s scooters are used by sharing service Revel, which has launched its rental service in a handful of big cities. Even Segway-Ninebot, progenitor of the electric kick scooter, is getting in on the action with the release of several new models.