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E is for electric: The BMW C1-E concept scooter

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November 17, 2009

BMW has brought back the C1 as an electric-powered concept scooter called the C1-E

BMW has brought back the C1 as an electric-powered concept scooter called the C1-E

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When BMW released their original C1 scooter in 2000 nobody had seen anything like it on the road. And not many C1s were seen on the road after it was released either. In the three years that BMW produced the scooter-with-a-roll-cage, only about 12000 were made. The riding public didn’t quite know what to make of the C1 and BMW never sold as many as it had hoped. Now BMW has brought the urban runabout back as the C1-E concept vehicle with an electric drivetrain. Could it be the C1’s time has come?

The C1 may have been ahead of its time when it first appeared, but the times and fashion may now work in its favor. The C1-E looks right at home on the street with other modern scooters such as the Piaggio MP3, Piaggio USB concept, and Peugeot Hymotion hybrid. The C1-E also crosses over into the ultramobile four-wheeler category with vehicles such as the Nissan Land Glider, VW L1, and Renault ZE.

Where BMW’s old internal-combustion models offered a 125 cc, 15 bhp four stroke engine (later a 176cc capacity with 18 bhp), the C1-E features an electric motor and components from the Vectrix scooter company, powered by a lithium-ion battery. Although Vectrix filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, new investors may resurrect the brand. No matter the outcome, BMW hopes the C1-E will demonstrate the viability of an electric powertrain in a safe, urban commuter vehicle.

Like the original C1, the BMW C1-E is designed with an emphasis on rider protection with its front-to-back roll bar and energy-absorbing impact material in the nose. Unlike the C1 however, the C1-E also features a seat-belt for the rider. According to BMW, the scooter is the only motorized single-track vehicle that is exempt from mandatory helmet wearing in almost all European countries

The C1-E design also provides for rider comfort and convenience. The roll cage has mounting points for both a windscreen and a roof to provide wind and weather protection. In addition, there is luggage space behind the rider.

BMW Motorrad developed the C1-E concept as part of the European safety project eSUM, which stands for European Safer Urban Motorcycling. eSUM is a cooperative project between major urban European motorcycling centers and motorcycle manufacturers. The goal of the project is to develop and demonstrate ways to take advantage of the benefits of two-wheeled transportation in easing traffic flow in urban locations, while also increasing the safety of motorcycles and scooters in the city. Participating cities include Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and London; and the manufacturers are BMW and Piaggio.

The C1-E will remain a concept for now. BMW says that series production is currently not planned but that findings from the project will find their way into other future developments in the field of single-track vehicles.

For more information about eSUM visit www.esum.eu.

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7 Comments

I wanted a C1 way back when, but it was too expensive for a piddly 125cc engine, which also had a reputation for melting down. I like the idea of a silent electric version, but it wouldn't be able to make long trips anymore.

Gadgeteer
17th November, 2009 @ 09:44 pm PST

Couple of corrections: The C1 also featured twin, crossover seatbelts in its design. It is this, plus the rollcage that permits the helmet-less use in countries that normally require them, and in fact the C1 would fail to run above idle if they were not engaged. The only known fatality involving the C1 was due to some lidless, brainless idiot sitting ON the seatbelts rather than using them properly... However, Londoners will NOT be able to ride the elecrtic version without a helmet. Legislation does not permit, despite legal effforts by C1 riders in the UK to bring the matter to the courts.

snave
18th November, 2009 @ 03:41 am PST

I don't think I'd want to be strapped into a scooter. But the roll cage would be a good place to carry a surfboard or a mattress....

DemonDuck
18th November, 2009 @ 11:20 am PST

Having put more than a thousand people on a C1 for the first time, I can tell you that you WOULD want to be strapped into it. The advice given for accidents was: "Shut your eyes, tuck in your arms and legs - and wait for the noises to stop!" There has never been a safer two wheeler save for the Ecomobile - and that has outriggers so may be an honorable four-wheeler anyway..;)

And as for the sufboard - on the world launch of the C1 a couple of journos raced down a steep hill with one bodysurfing on the roof. So a surfboard = no problem!

snave
19th November, 2009 @ 02:11 pm PST

i would not mind seeing one with 3 wheels, preferably so that it can be driven in norway during winter...

tho i guess given norwegian law, this vehicle will require the wearing of a full protective suite as well as a helmet, thanks to its engine capacity...

digi_owl
19th November, 2009 @ 03:56 pm PST

it needs a much better roll cage for me to use it. Something like an 8 point one like on http://rollcage.org

lankomi
23rd March, 2010 @ 07:57 am PDT

I RED ABOUT THIS POST AND I LAUGHT, I DRIVE A C1 FROM 6 YEARS, NOW. THE FRAME IS UNIC AND SAFE, THE ONLY PROBLEM OF THE C1 IS THE ENGINE, THAT´S WHY THEY STOP SELLING. THE ENGINE COMES FROM THE APRILLIA 200 CC LEONARDO. ALSO APRILIA DONT USE ANY MORE THIS ENGINE. tHIS MOTOR AND THE ABS CAUSE MANY TROUBLES. jUST DRIVE A C1 DURING ONE YEAR OF COURSE IT WAS NOT DESIGN FOR RACING!

legerme
3rd November, 2010 @ 11:06 am PDT
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