Scooter-with-a-roof returns as an electric concept
6 October 2009

BMW has resurrected the C1 scooter-with-a-roof as an electrically-powered zero emissions concept.

Although not planned for production in its current form the C1 E, as BMW has christened the two-wheeler, is among a brace of new vehicles the manufacturer is considering as part of its MegaCity project.

See the hi-res BMW C1 E picture gallery

MegaCity will take on Daimler's struggling Smart division with a range of affordable urban vehicles, in both two- and four-wheeled forms.

Powering the C1 E is an 27bhp electric motor that uses energy supplied by a plug-in 125 volt lithium-ion battery. The system is supplied by US based company Vectrix and has been enhanced by various components from BMW's EfficientDynamics program.

No performance claims for the C1 E have been made public but BMW officials contacted by Autocar suggest it will hit 50mph in under 7.0sec and reach a top speed of 62mph. Maximum range between recharging is put at 'around 55 miles'.

Launched in 2000, the original C1 was touted by BMW as the future of urban mobility. Its steel frame and integrated seat belt meant the rider didn't have to wear a helmet, which should have increased its appeal.

But after early quality problems and just 12,614 sales, production stopped in 2002 just as scooter sales across Europe began to boom.

Greg Kable

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6 October 2009

From my recollection, the reason the C1 failed in the UK was that our government would not accept the rider should not wear a crash helmet, although Europe accepted C1 riders were safer without the helmet. This coupled to the high centre of gravity, which made handling more difficult than "normal" scooters and high weight which led to relatively sluggish performance and relatively poor fuel consumption sealed its fate.

It was also expensive at launch compared to 125 and 200 cc competitors, although if you look on Ebay today you will see that those original purchasers perhaps made the wiser buys!

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