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David Zax

A View from David Zax

BMW's Electric Scooter

It does away with a frame altogether, and could soon make your commute emissions-free. Provided you live in Europe.

  • July 12, 2011

BMW recently highlighted an electric scooter, currently still in the concept phase, targeted at green-leaning commuters. BMW is by no means inventing the electric scooter here. But it claims that its scooter will offer “a much broader spectrum of use” than those models already out there.

BMW Motorrad Concept Vehicle BMW E-Scooter. Credit: BMW

Funded in part by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, the e-scooter charges at a typical power socket–no special charging stations necessary. Details on performance are scarce for the time being, but we do know that it performs best at 37 miles per hour and under. That’s not to say that it won’t be able to attain a higher speed than that, though, and BMW emphasizes that it understands the importance of being able to pass others on the road, even while carrying two people. A release suggests that the BMW e-scooter’s engine offers performance on par with a 600 cc engine, the kind seen in rival scooters. BMW’s offering gets a range of a little over 60 miles–good enough for most commutes.

The scooter does away with a main frame, instead using the aluminum battery casing for that purpose. The rear frame and swing arm is connected to that casing. The scooter’s battery is cooled by the air to save space, while the electric motor and electronics are cooled by liquid. The drivetrain is set up in such a way that braking produces energy for the battery. Wired breaks down the mechanics of this nice and succinctly, explaining that “the electric motor is mounted behind the battery and connected via toothed belt to the belt pulley, which is mounted coaxially on the swinging fork pivot with drive pinion. A roller chain connects to the rear wheel.” The regenerative forces that result wind up in a 10-20% extended range.

“We are aiming at the typical commuter,” says a BMW spokesperson in the requisite (but fun) zooming-around-tracks-and-closed-roads video. “People living in or around big cities, going to work every day maybe to the supermarket or the cinema in the evening and back home again.” It’s not quite ready for the mass market yet, and given its manufacturer and funder, it’s of course most likely to hit the streets of Europe well before it makes its way stateside.

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