BMW Electric C1-E Scooter Prototype

October 8, 2009
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

BMW itself makes pains to say C1-E production is currently not planned.
BMW does an electric take on its intriguing C1 concept.

The C1, BMW’s enclosed scooter model, never had the staying power the Bavarian marque hoped. But that doesn’t mean BMW has given up on the idea entirely. Example, the C1-E electric prototype the German manufacturer produced for the eSUM European safety project.

Standing for European Safer Urban Motorcycling, the eSUM is a collaboration between manufacturers Piaggio and BMW with metropolitans like Paris, Rome and London. It aims to encourage ridership and the environmental and traffic-flow benefits of two-wheeled transport by reducing risks and accidents in urban settings. The stated goal is “the identification, development, and practical demonstration of measures which are able to guarantee safe motorcycle and motor-scooter transport in the inner-city traffic of the future.”

BMW C1-E Scooter Photo Gallery


Enter BMW’s C1-E, which takes the original C1 concept and greens it up with an electric powertrain. First, there is the C1’s unusual chassis, featuring a roll-bar canopy encasing the rider. Keeping the pilot from being thrown from the bike is a seat-belt harness, the C1-E drawing closer attention to the system by coloring the belts and buckles a bright red. No doubt the visible dual-disc braking components would carry the safety theme by sourcing BMW’s ubiquitous integral ABS.

Most Americans have likely never seen a single C1, however, pay a visit to Europe and there are a surprising amount scattered through the two-wheeled parking areas – most EU countries allowing it to be operated without a helmet. The C1 is an intriguing concept, with the fairing and windscreen delivering built-in protection from the elements. Add in the storage in the trunk and it sounds like a great idea. Even if its production status halted in 2002…

Propelling the C1-E is an electric motor sourcing juice from a lithium-ion battery.
In many EU countries riders can operate the C1 without mandatory helmet requirements.

Propelling the C1-E is an electric motor sourcing juice from a lithium-ion battery. BMW doesn’t divulge a lot of detail except that the motor is “based on components” from Vectrix. Considering the Rhode Island electric scooter firm is now officially bankrupt, kind of kills the electric/green buzz BMW’s electric concept could have generated.

BMW itself makes pains to say “production is currently not planned.” However, it also promises “findings from the project will find their way into other future developments in the field of single-track vehicles.” BMW also notes that the C1-E concept could “be equipped with an efficient, low-emissions internal combustion engine.”

Stay tuned…