A new BMW EV is finally here, after going from one concept to another. The CE 04 is BMW Motorrad’s latest entry into the electric motorcycle market. OK, it’s a scooter, but that hardly matters in the context of what it represents.
This is a major motorcycle maker saying that regardless of where two-wheelers are headed — whether big ICE bikes (like the R 18) always stick around — there’s a growing market for electric bikes. BMW is not going to give away its share in that market by not showing up. So it’s just pulled up, on this guy:
Keep in mind this is not the first EV scooter from BMW. The first production EV ‘scoot from the Germans was the C Evolution, but that scooter didn’t get much fanfare, so it’s always been kind of an also-ran among EV bikes.
That’s what feels different about this new CE 04 compared to the C Evolution. When that older EV came out, we were not in the middle of a sea change, transitioning as we are now to EVs. That transition might not seem any more urgent than ten years ago, but things have come a long way for EVs.
You could almost say that the C Evolution was maybe ahead of its time, but to be honest, I think it fell flat because it wasn’t very interesting. It was not as cool or futuristic as this new CE 04, and it didn’t come with a flashy parka.
Funky LED clothing aside, the CE 04 makes a pretty good case for itself. The scooter will make a maximum of 42 horsepower and about 46 lb-ft of torque. It will have a max range of about 80 miles. Now, that HP figure is the max figure, and BMW claims that the new EV’s rated capacity is 20 HP.
The company also cites a cryptic “traffic light start” figure when discussing the specs, and I have a couple of questions about this.
The first is probably if BMW meant “stoplight drag race,” because that is a thing. I don’t know what a “traffic light start” is. Maybe something was lost in translation. My other question, I guess, is if the company is actually encouraging me to take this EV and wring it out at stoplights, in which case, BMW says the CE 04 will go from 0 to 50 kilometers per hour, or 0 to 31 miles per hour, in 2.6 seconds.
That’s pretty fast; maybe too fast for a scooter. Then again, this is really a maxi-scooter platform. Scooters in this category are not exactly like a Vespa, light-weight scooters with lower displacement that are almost exclusively made for city streets. Maxi-scooters are closer to motorcycles, with higher displacement and larger wheels, which make them more suitable for jaunts on the highway.
The CE 04's highway performance is not necessarily a selling point, though, and I would want to see what prolonged high-speed would do to the range. Like with most BMW bikes, this new one can be configured with a lot of options, like a better headlight, welcome and goodbye LEDs, better ABS brakes, better traction control and a “dynamic” riding mode for faster performance.
Again, I want to know how much of a hit the range takes when all of these options are applied. Also, how much that would cost, because the CE 04 is not as cheap as it should be. This should come in just under $10,000, so that more riders could seriously consider it, but it starts at $11,795 and will easily go into the mid-teens when you start ticking options. Most BMW dealers likely will.
That brings me to the weakest point on the CE 04. For that much money, I would want an impressive machine, all-around. Yes, the range is fine. The speed is fine, but the charging rate is no good. Standard charging will take four hours and twenty minutes to go from completely dead to fully charged, and it takes three and a half hours to go from zero to 80 percent charge. That’s not great.
Those times are cut way down with the quick charger, but EVs need to be accessible and cheap from the jump in order for more folks to buy in. Most people have plugs in their garage, but not everyone can get access to a quick charger. This new EV is this close to being a cheap EV with a roundel.