BMW has been warning us for years that it wants to make and sell a radical electric city scooter, and now it’s following through. On Wednesday, the German automaker announced that its Motorrad division will put the striking BMW CE 04 into production, with decent range and speed on offer as well as plenty of futuristic vibes.
The CE 04 broke cover as a concept scooter in November 2020, though that itself was basically just a reimagining of another concept that BMW debuted in 2017. What’s really striking about the images BMW released Wednesday is how similar the production version looks. Instead of watering down the bold design in an attempt to please a wider range of buyers, the CE 04’s bright orange accents and sharp, angular lines make it look just as much like it belongs in an anime as its concept predecessors.
It’s striking how little BMW changed the design from the concepts
BMW is really angling the CE 04 as a city vehicle — so much so that the press release quite seriously opens with an extended first-person narrative written from the perspective of a fictional owner and parka-obsessed city-dweller that I cannot recommend enough.
This framing helps contextualize the limited 81-mile range, which is made possible by a lithe 8.9kWh battery (built on the same cells that power the new iX SUV). But while that pales in comparison to the three-digit range figures of most every modern four-wheel electric vehicle, it’s enough to cover the kinds of daily short trips one typically makes with a scooter like the CE 04. Driving in a city means there will also be a lot of braking, which presents ample opportunity to use regenerative braking to feed energy back into the battery.
For however long the battery lasts, it sounds like the CE 04 will be a fun ride. BMW says it has a maximum output of 31kW (42 horsepower) and a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour (roughly 75mph). Automatic stability control, dynamic traction control, and an anti-lock braking system — technologies that BMW has been iterating on for a while now, with the company going so far as developing a prototype self-driving motorcycle — are all available to help riders keep that quickness in check. A 10.25-inch TFT screen between the handlebars will offer onboard navigation and smartphone connectivity. (And the bike will have an “[a]ctively ventilated mobile phone charging compartment with USB-C charging port” to boot, according to BMW.)
BMW has sold a futuristic electric scooter before, the C Evolution, which was quite well-received despite never really catching on — likely thanks to the $13,000 price tag. Eager buyers hoping for a break here aren’t going to catch one, though, as the CE 04 starts at around $12,000.
Update July 7th, 12:45PM ET: Added pricing information from BMW’s website.