Currently reading: BMW CE 04 electric scooter review
Technology borrowed from BMW's cars could make this the next big hitter for electric scooters

Move Electric verdict: four out of five stars

What are we looking at here?

BMW led from the off in the production of electric scooters with the C-Evolution, which was launched back in 2014. Now, for 2022, the German manufacturer has taken another significant leap forward with the futuristic CE 04 electric scooter.

Clearly, the two-wheel division of BMW has nipped around the corner to the four-wheel department and borrowed some of its technology, because the CE 04 uses smaller versions of the car battery cells used in the electric i car range. Not only has this cunning move kept development costs relatively low, but also ensured reliability and safety while keeping BMW Motorrad one step ahead of some its closest competition, such as KTM and Ducati. 

BMW C Evolution electric scooter review - an owner's story

BMW has also let its designers run wild. Unconstrained by the conventions of traditional engine placement or exhaust routing, they have come up with a visual treat. I posted images of the CE 04 on my social media and it provoked a vociferous 'love or hate' reaction, exactly what designers looking to make an impact want. Having spent a whole day absorbing its form and detailing during a test drive event in Barcelona I have to say I love it; this radical scoot looks even better in the flesh.

More than a styling exercise 

The CE 04 is as practical and usable as it is stylish. The all-important 0-100% charging time is 4 hours 20 mins from a regular household socket or 1 hour 40 minutes with an optional fast charger (£850). A 20%-80% charge takes just 45 minutes with the fast charger or 1 hour 40 minutes from a regular household socket.

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​Maximum output is a quoted 42hp @ 4900rpm; top speed is a claimed /75mph; 0-31mph takes 2.6 seconds, with 0-62mph taking a claimed 9.1 seconds.

Three riding modes – Road, Rain and Eco – come as standard along with ABS and traction control (TC). Opt for the additional Dynamic package (£380) and your CE 04 receives an additional riding mode, Dynamic, plus adaptive headlights, while the rider aids become lean sensitive, meaning both the ABS and TC protect the CE 04 against a locking or spinning wheel even when it’s banked over in corners.   

Most conventional petrol scooters have a removable or hinged seat that allows access to under-seat storage, but the CE 04 is different as the seat is fixed. There is enough storage for a full-face helmet, which is neatly accessed from the side like a large pannier or huge glove box.

Upfront there’s an additional splash-proof storage compartment for a mobile phone that is cooled by an electric fan to prevent your device overheating. The charging point is on the right, opposite the phone compartment while the ignition and both storage compartments are all keyless and lock automatically as you leave the bike. And, as you’d expect, the 10.25-inch full-colour dash has connectivity, as well as integrated map navigation.

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Time to hit the streets of Barcelona 

That TFT dash shows you’re ‘ready’, so you simply twist the throttle and go – just like a conventional modern scooter, but in blissful silence. Torque and acceleration are instant (peak torque is at just 1500rpm), and you drive seamlessly away. As well as the three riding modes, our test scoot also had the optional Dynamic mode fitted.

Each mode has a different throttle response and engine brake strategy, which regenerates energy back to the battery. Eco, for example, is very soft, with maximum battery recuperation and strong engine braking, while Road delivers full acceleration and dramatically reduced engine braking and regeneration.

Move Electric verdict: four stars out of five

​Dynamic mode gives enough oomph to embarrass most motorists from the lights, the traction control activating from time to time over slippery white lines and cats-eyes. In the UK’s cold and wet riding conditions, the traction control will have to work harder than Boris Johnson’s party planner.

Acceleration from a standstill is brisk, to say the least, and out of town the CE 04 is happy to whizz up to an indicated 60mph without hesitation. This is a surprisingly quick commuter, it’s effortless and easy, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for city speed cameras that could easily catch you out. The downside is that the using the CE 04’s rapid acceleration and natural pace through town will reduce the claimed 80-mile range. That said, after 40 miles of fun riding, the display on our test machine still showed a range of 37 miles remaining.

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Lighter than the old C-Evolution

Compared to the noticeably heavy C-Evolution of old, the CE 04 is a relative lightweight. It tops the scales at a respectable 231kg although it remains 25-30kg heavier than a conventional petrol equivalent. The German designers have cleverly placed all those kilos low in the chassis, though, with the battery cells running horizontally mere inches above the road, which enables to CE 04 to feel much lighter than its on-paper weight suggests (and helping with air-cooling too). 

The CE 04 flows, almost swings, through traffic and is narrower than a conventional scooter, especially at the rear, making it easy to carve through rush hour traffic in perfect silence. The ride from the Showa suspension is a little firm, but the seat is comfier than it looks.

The CE 04 is A2 licence-compliant and can be restricted further for A1 licence holders. The 780mm seat is higher than BMW’s own C 400 X scooter, but its thinness makes the CE 04 accessible for shorter riders, and a reverse gear comes as standard, which allows you to slowly crawl the bike backwards out of a parking space. 

Don’t look at the price tag

There is a hefty price to pay for CE 04 ownership: £11,700 for the base model or £13,930 for our highly spec’d test model, more than double a petrol equivalent. BMW’s own C 400 X is priced at £6250. £137 per month on PCP is less eye watering and, yes, it will be cheap to run, especially if you can charge up at work.

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Verdict

If money is no object, then I’d recommend the CE 04 over any petrol equivalent. The BMW is more entertaining with rapid and silent acceleration, it is easier to commute through the urban jungle thanks to its slimness, comes with a reverse gear, and is packed with style and tech. It’s a work of genius of style and engineering.

However, £11,700 is hefty price to pay for the equivalent of a 400cc scooter, and you really need the fast charger, which is an extra £850, and the Dynamic Package, which is £380. But arguably BMW customers wanting a head-turning commuter to sit next to their £69,905 iX won’t think twice about £137 a month and free commuting.

Adam Child

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BMW CE 04 specification

Price: £11,700 (base) £13,930 (tested)

Electric motor/s: Liquid-cooled permanent magnet synchronous motor with surface magnets

Drive battery: Air-cooled lithium-ion high voltage battery

Power: 31kw/42hp @ 4,900rpm (Max) 15kw/20hp @ 4,900rpm (Rated)

Torque: 62Nm 45.7lb ft @ 1,500rpm

Top speed: 120kph (claim) 74.5mph

Range: 130kph (claim) 80.1mph

0-62mph: 9.1 sec (0-100km)

Kerb weight: 231kg​

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scrap 31 January 2022

Ok the price is eye watering for a scooter, albeit running costs will be much lower and resale prices will presumably be healthy. But the key line for me here is that this review rates it as dynamically superior to petrol-powered scooters. This feels like a game changer.