We reported last week that BMW plans to bring its C-series scooters to the American market in the next six weeks or so. Expected on the horizon is the third sibling in that scooter family, the BMW C-EV. Labeled the C evolution in pre-production concept form, this 100% electric version is intended to garner somewhat equivalent performance to its dinosaur consuming siblings (75 mph), but retain a useful range for everyday commuting use (60 miles). That bike looked to us to be less of a concept and more of a pre-production prototype. In a recent press release, BMW has confirmed that suspicion:
This year, BMW Motorrad presented the “C evolution” as a product-quality prototype of an E-Scooter in the form in which it could soon come onto the marketplace. It has been designed as a commuting vehicle for travelling to work between the suburbs and city centre, so that development focused specifically on two requirements: ride characteristics comparable with those of a Maxi Scooter powered by an internal combustion engine, and a long range under normal conditions of use.
It’s sounding more and more like production of the electric BMW C-EV is not a matter of if, but of when and where. When will it come to market and where will it be available? That said, the more sensitive question is, of course, how much? With the MSRP of the C 600 and C 650 GT expected at $10,690 and $11,090 respectively, what kind of technology premium will the all-electric version demand? We can’t imagine BMW pricing the C-EV that aggressively given the soft demand for electric vehicles, yet conceivably, the C-EV contains fewer overall components, so final pricing is difficult to guess at this point. Ultimately, we believe that price point will be more about where BMW wishes to position this vehicle within its own offerings and within the market at large.
The advent of the C-EV brings the first real broad market competition for big scooter EV pioneer Vectrix. Their VX-1 is in its second generation and while it doesn’t boast quite the same spec as the BMW predicts, the VX-1 is pretty close. Top speed is listed at 68 mph and range for the Li+ version is listed as 55-85 miles (this compared to 75 mph/60 miles range on the BMW concept). With an MSRP of $11,995-$13,995, one could have a roughly equivalent Vectrix for the same cost as the petrol-burning BMW C 600. If the BMW C-EV came in at even the upper end of the Vectrix price range, we’d be rather surprised. So it’s advantage Vectrix on the pricing front. However, Vectrix has struggled from the start to attract enough customers for strong growth. Does BMW bring enough deep-pocket customers with it to the EV market to make the C-EV viable? Are there enough total customers to sustain either machine at this price range? We’ll see.
The way we see it, the BMW has only a few real opportunities to edge out the incumbent in this space, but they’re significant advantages. Style, handling and especially brand cache. We think the BMW is better looking than the Vectrix, and it gets its face from a larger family of bikes. BMW knows a thing or three about suspension and handling. And lastly, name recognition is everything in powersports. Beyond the cache of the propeller roundel, however, is the reality of BMW’s dealer network. That one could buy a capable, zero emissions commuting EV in the same showroom where you’ll find a round-the-world-capable R 1200 GS is a sales reality Vectrix will likely struggle to contend with.
We look forward to putting the two head-to-head in a real world test. Who would you be pulling for?