2014 BMW C Evolution First Ride

Alan Cathcart | May 14, 2014

Production has now begun on the basis of 10 units a day at BMW’s Berlin factory of its debut model in the electric sector, its C evolution maxi-scooter that we first rode in prototype form two years ago at the London Olympics. Initially the scooter will be sold only in Europe, but BMW Motorrad’s Head of Urban Mobility, Kaspar Danzer, confirms that the U.S. is next, followed by Australasian and Asian countries, including China.

“We believe the C evolution will appeal to customers even in markets which have yet to embrace our combustion-engined C650 scooters,” he said. “It provides truly efficient zero emission transportation, with a practical 100km [62 miles] range and quick recharge, and can be ridden with a normal A1 car license in the EU. And although the up-front purchase price is more expensive, there are no more servicing or running costs, except for replacing brake pads and perhaps the rear tire.”

The chance to ride the production C evolution came in another Olympic city, Barcelona, an appropriate venue for the global press launch as the European capital of two-wheeled transportation, with 300,000 powered two-wheelers registered in a city of 1.2 million inhabitants. Barcelona has totally embraced the EV concept, with 200 free-to-use charging stations throughout the city – 120 of them in parking garages that are also free to EV riders/drivers, with another 50 planned to be ready for 2015.

“Barcelona is the paradigm for future recognition of the role of zero emission vehicles,” says Danzer. “Fifty percent of the world’s population is already living in cities, and we expect that figure to rise to as high as 70% within the next 25 years. Electric vehicles will play an increasingly important role in allowing them to move about in a quiet, sustainable, environmentally clean manner.”

In the two years since we first rode it, BMW has focused on refining what was already a pretty capable prototype, with the key addition of four separate riding modes that allow riders to choose a preferred blend of performance and efficiency, as well as a more complete and easier to read TFT dash, heated handgrips, reverse gear, traction control, and grippier Pirelli Diablo tires.

Each of these has its uses, though you’ll end up using Road the most, combining maximum acceleration, around 50 percent energy regeneration while coasting off the throttle, and full regeneration when braking. By contrast, in Eco Pro mode acceleration and thus energy consumption are restricted, while the maximum possible energy is recuperated either with the throttle backed off, or under acceleration, resulting in the kind of engine braking you get from a high-compression engine lit by a spark.

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