Leave it to BMW to put the "premium" in electric scooters.
Among the announcements at the recent AIMExpo, BMW told us that its C evolution (the lower-case "e" is not a typo — that's how BMW spells it) electric scooter is now arriving at selected dealers in California. BMW had told us earlier this year that the scooter, which has been available in Europe, is coming to the U.S. market, but now we have more details.
While two versions are sold in Europe, only the "Long Range" version will be sold here. The scooter is rated at a range of 99 miles, peak output of 48 horsepower and is limited to a top speed of 80 mph. We all know that the range of electric motorcycles and scooters varies widely, depending on how you ride and at what speeds. Some of the tech BMW put on the C evolution may help with range issues.
The C evolution has four riding modes, so if your commute is 10 miles long and resembles the Monaco Grand Prix, choose a sportier setting. If you're barely making it home at the end of the day, choose an energy-saving setting. Other features that put the "premium" in the C evolution are standard ABS brakes, reverse assist and, most visible of all, the onboard computer with a TFT screen, which displays a variety of information in full color.
The C evolution is powered by three of the 94 Ah lithium ion battery modules used in BMW's electric i3 car. BMW says the batteries can be recharged in 9.5 hours using a regular 110-volt supply or in four hours with an accessory 220-volt cable. The batteries have a five-year, 30,000-mile warranty.
One fact conspicuously absent from the BMW spec sheet is the scooter's weight. It looks like it could be hefty, but with the battery weight sitting low and centered, weight may not be an issue. My biggest mistake at AIMExpo was getting caught up in meetings and presentations and missing my chance to take a test ride on the C evolution, so I could tell you more. Poor planning on my part.
You also get the usual scooter conveniences, such as underseat storage, plus some extra features for your comfort, like the tall windscreen. Unlike most BMW motorcycles these days, there are no complicated packages of features to choose from. Options are limited to heated grips, an alarm and a comfort seat.
The price is also premium. MSRP is $13,750. As both Mark Gardiner and I have written before, we expect the real disruption from electric two-wheelers will come at the low end of the price scale, not the high end, which is where most manufacturers currently seem to be focusing their efforts. Still, the C evolution marks a new step forward for electric vehicles in the United States. In California, where the weather is temperate and lane-splitting is legal, a maxi scooter makes a great commuter. We'll see how many consumers agree at BMW's price point.