Full throttle ahead for BMW’s C evolution electric maxi scooter

BMW’s new electric two-wheeler is well ahead on power an performance, but also a little ahead of itself on price

BMW’s new electric two-wheeler is well ahead on power and performance, but also a little ahead of itself on price. Video: Ian Beatty

Mon, May 12, 2014, 14:41

Hot on the tyre tracks of its electric four-wheelers, BMW is out to show it means business with its electric strategy on two wheels as well. Nowhere was this more evident than at the recent launch of its all-new BMW C evolution electric maxi scooter.

BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle division of BMW, is concentrating resources on producing electric mobility, harmonising some of the technology developed to produce the i3 supermini, which is already on sale in Ireland.

The C evolution maxi scooter joins BMW’s current petrol-powered maxi scooters, the C 600 Sport and C 650 GT. Its styling is in line with its conventionally-powered siblings, albeit with a distinct white and green colour scheme.

Development of the C evolution began in 2009. The team behind it used as many synergies with the i3 as possible. Speaking at the international launch, product manager Dorit Mangold said: “The most difficult design obstacle was accommodating the battery modules as used in the i3 into the maxi scooter. The i3 car has eight module blocks, and the C evolution has three of these.”

In order to accommodate them, BMW’s engineers designed an aluminium case to encompass them, which also acts as a structure forming the mainframe, with the rear single-sided swing arm attached to the rear of the case, and the steering head support attached to the front.

The high-voltage battery is air-cooled, with a liquid cooled electric motor that produces 11kW (15hp), with a peak power output of 35kW (47hp) and 72Nm of torque. This power is transferred to the rear wheel by way of a toothed belt and ring gearing. This enables to C evolution to reach an electronically limited top speed of 120km/h, with a realistic 100 kilometre range.

Sheer acceleration
When you first ride the bike, the most impressive and notable feature is the sheer acceleration from standstill. The entire bike’s torque is available from zero rpm, resulting in initial acceleration unlike any petrol-powered alternative. It’s just as well it has traction control and ABS fitted as standard: with a handful of throttle on a wet road it would be effortless to spin the rear wheel. BMW’s traction control is in fact a torque control assist (TCA); it limits the motor’s torque depending on the slip detected at the rear wheel.

When riding the C evolution you can choose one of four riding modes: Road, Eco Pro, Sail and Dynamic. All, apart from Sail, encompass energy regeneration to extend battery life; this occurs automatically when you close the throttle and under braking.

In Road mode you have maximum power available, with approximately 50 per cent energy regeneration when coasting; in Eco Pro mode this is maximised, although acceleration is restricted, with a noticeable lack of power in comparison to the other modes.

Energy regeneration only occurs in Sail mode under braking, and so you experience no braking torque when you close the throttle. This is a slightly disconcerting feeling when you first ride the bike in this mode. It’s really only practical on main roads or motorways.

The final mode, and the one I selected for the majority of my ride, is Dynamic; this furnishes the rider with full power and a large degree of drag torque under braking and with the throttle closed.

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