Scooters And One Wheels

BMW CE 04 (2… | Final luxurious electrical metropolis scooter?

Kicking off 2022, we were invited along to the international press launch of the brand new all-electric BMW CE 04 in Barcelona – a beautiful city that is an apparent utopia for scooters, they are everywhere you look.

With a given 80 mile range, a 74 mph top speed, and 4 hours 20 minute charge time (0 – 100% with standard plug), just how good is this luxury electric scooter? Will it convert combustion engine riders – even motorcyclists – over to electric propulsion? Or is that not what this is all about?

Stepping away from the trends of naked, sports and adventure bikes, this ‘new’ urban mobility segment gives a chance for new style trends too – and the head of design called it a sausage dog. It’s low, long, and certainly a step in a new direction with unique looks. I see what he means. But it’s an electric sausage dog, fantastic! Anyway.

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Quick model history

First revealed to us as a concept back in 2017, the BMW CE 04 is the next step in the Bavarian manufacturer’s journey into its electric mobility roadmap. As a brief rundown and recap, BMW officially started its e-mobility story back in 2011 with the reveal of the BMW Concept E – though the C1-E concept was floating around in 2009 – with these ideas developing into the C Evolution in 2014 (itself loosely based on the C600 scooter). 

Then 2017 saw the ‘Concept Link’, which was polished into the ‘Definition CE 04’ in 2020. 2021 gave us the full reveal of the CE 04 – and it’s remarkable just how close it stayed to the concept. That’s a rare occurrence. The CE 04 is now due to be the figurehead for all of the all-electric future urban mobility BMW machines from this point onwards.

BMW CE 04 2022 Price and availability

Due to land in the UK dealership network in Spring (March/April) 2022, the BMW CE 04 has a starting price of £11,700. Though, in true BMW fashion, there are plenty of options & extras to include should you desire, in turn bumping up the final price if you want all the bells and whistles.

Running costs may be cheap, but that’s a steep price point. This supposedly matches the target consumer who’s after a luxury commuter, is conscious of the green future of mobility, and is ultimately willing to pay for it. Particularly in spaces like London, where the centre is becoming increasingly ‘electrified’ with rent-a-scooters commonly zipping around the city streets. 

As the base price is over £10,000 it’s no longer eligible for the UK plug-in grant, with posts moved that is now capped at £10k.

Interested scooterists may be tempted by a PCP option; a 25% deposit (£2,951.46) would grant you £137.94 a month for 35 months, and a final optional payment of £5700. A tad more palatable than one big upfront cost (for some). 

Consider that at the end of a 35 month PCP deal, electric tech will have developed considerably, and there may be a more advanced option to tempt you in lieu of that big final payment. 

Two colours to pick from, available in white (£0 extra, and looks a bit like an iron) or grey (+ £220 in the ‘Avant-Garde pack’).

We were atop an Avant-garde grey scoot, priced up at £13,080 with dynamic pack (riding mode, DRLs & cornering lights, cornering ‘ABS Pro’), city pack (alarm, tyre pressure control, heated grips, centre stand) and SOS button. 

As a 400cc equivalent, it can be compared to the BMW C 400 GT (£6,995) – it’s 5 grand up on that. You could compare it to the £12,500 Yamaha TMAX Tech Max, which has a similar power output with 562cc parallel-twin.

Whilst other big manufacturers start to get their electric models ready for release – Yamaha with the E01, Honda with theirs in development, Kawasaki’s in the pipeline, and the electric consortium formed – it’ll be interesting to see how size and price match up. 

Electric engine

A permanent magnet electric motor is mounted towards the rear of the steel double loop frame, between the battery and single-sided swingarm. Liquid-cooled with a front-mounted radiator, peak output is 31 kW / 42 bhp (15 kW / 20 bhp rated output), and 62 Nm / 45.7 lb-ft of torque, with a 74 mph top speed. 

The Berlin-built motor unit is derived from its electric & hybrid cars, and you’ll also find it in the BMW iX and 2 Series hybrid. 

In the pre-ride chat there was plenty of boasting on the 0-50 kph (31 mph) time being 2.6 seconds, and on the ride it was no exaggeration. 

Whilst not quite leaving the tyre-sized hole in the road I was expecting with instant torque synonymous with electric machines, the CE 04 absolutes flys off the line with power smoothly applied to the rear wheel via belt final drive. It’s a truly addicting twist and GO (in capitals!) and you’ll surprise everyone in the famed ‘traffic light GP’. 

We even had an R1 rider shocked off the line, who proceeded to tuck in and fly past us in revenge…

With a single ‘gear’ and smooth power curves, the scooter is classically scooter (& electric) in its ease to ride. In fact, I’d say anyone who can balance on two wheels could be confidently zipping about the city in no time. 

Speaking of ease of riding, this scoot can be restricted to an A1 licence compliant 11 kW output for free by your local BMW dealer, and the standard power is still A2 compliant.

BMW CE 04 range and battery

A full charge will get you around 130 km / 80 miles. This rang true on our route, covering just over 60 km and finishing with just under 50% battery left – but in its defence, holeshot-starts at traffic lights will drain the battery quicker than cruising in eco mode. 

The battery is again an in-house BMW Motorrad development, 40 lithium-ion cells mounted under the footboards – providing twin benefits of air cooling and a seriously low centre of gravity. The high-voltage battery sits on a cooling plate with cooling fins on the underside, said to keep the cells in a perfect state for optimum mileage. 

BMW found a city commuter wouldn’t near this range with average use, so were happy with providing an 80-mile max range (70 miles realistically, you’d be mad to risk running it to empty).

To ease some battery concerns, an extended warranty is given with the assurance that should it fall to 70% capacity in five years or 40,000 km, it’ll be replaced free of charge. On that, servicing appears to be due every 10,000 km, as per the onboard computer.

BMW CE 04 charging times

Best way to show this is with a handy little table, with the CE 04 and its restricted A1 licence variant.

  BMW CE 04 BMW CE 04 – A1 11kW
10 A charging current: Recharge time Recharge time
0 – 100% 4 hours 20 mins 3 hours 20 mins
0 – 80% 3 hours 30 mins 2 hours 25 mins
30 A charging current (quick charger):    
0 – 100% 1 hour 40 mins 1 hour 10 mins
0 – 80% 1 hour 5 mins 50 mins
Range 130 km 100 km

You get the 2.3 kW charging cable with the scoot, or can pay £850 for the 6.9 kW quick charger. Despite being the most expensive accessory on the list, it substantially reduces charging times – and if using the scooter for longer distances this is a necessity. We’re told both will fit under the seat with your lid if you Tetris it all in right.

I asked if BMW Motorrad is considering adding a long-range version of this scooter with more batteries. They said it’s unlikely, as this is a fine-tuned product and they wouldn’t want to mess with increased weight, particularly when this is 40kg down from the C Evolution. 

Don’t forget, if you stop for a coffee (near a plug) you can always top up a chunk for 15-30 minutes.

Rider modes

Your riding style will influence your range somewhat, and at the lights, other journos would be within a few percent of one another – you can hear everyone as there’s no idling motor noise to contend with!

You have 3 rider modes and 1 bonus paid option – but why can’t dynamic come as standard? Anyway.

Eco mode maximises drag torque (effectively engine braking) when coasting to regenerate some battery percentage, and limits top-end acceleration, and has strong engine braking – it should maximise the range possible per charge. Rain mode reduces both coasting drag torque and acceleration, a nice place to start when finding your feet, and a calm walk to glide the city streets. 

Road mode provides the full acceleration, but somewhat reduces the force of engine braking. Pay a bit more and you get Dynamic mode, providing full acceleration and full engine braking, so if you find yourself on twisty sections you can hammer down. All of these are displayed beautifully in real time on the dash, with a nice sliding scale showing you what’s going on. 

I’d be satisfied with just Road mode to be honest, unless you really want that dynamic mode in the ‘Dynamic Package’ with ABS pro and adaptive headlight for £380.

Also, a handy rider feature is the reverse function, press and hold the R button on the switchgear, and twist the throttle to smoothly control your rearwards propulsion. 

Quick note, don’t rely on just engine braking – the brake lights won’t come on and people won’t know you’re slowing. Give them some of the LED assistance with your bright LED lights.

Suspension, brakes and rideability

Simply put the suspension and brakes are exceptional. A single-sided swingarm with a central spring strut allows for 92mm rear travel, the telescopic forks give 100mm of travel. The suspension setup really impressed, cumulating to a gliding magic-carpet feeling by effortlessly soaking up bumps, and furthered by the electric nature. 

Turning in is a little heavy, but mid-corner is planted and secure – great for an electric scoot that can apply instant torque mid-corner if you have a loose-wristed moment of madness. 

Keeping you glued to the ground are Pirelli Diablo Rosso hoops on 15-inch wheels, very grippy. Twin 265mm discs at the front with a 4 piston caliper, a single 265mm rear with single-piston, stopping power was exceptional (with engine braking in the top setting) and cornering ABS an ex-works option. 

Caught by a few reds in that classic ‘well, the brakes are good’ moment, the ABS Pro we had on the scooters really did a job. Little to no shuddering when stopping the scoot within a few feet – but we were going at city speeds.

City riding

Electric scooters are, in my opinion, perfect for city riding, naturally making the CE 04 a great option – except for one caveat which I’ll get to. It may have something to do with guiding a metal sausage dog in small spaces.

Key requirements are being rapid off the line, prioritising acceleration over top speed (what you want in cities), being nimble, lightweight and clean (particularly for modern-day emissions reasons). 

The CE 04 ticks these boxes, but I have reservations on the nimbleness. Parking it up can be a bit daunting despite the reverse gear aid, as the massively long 1675mm wheelbase with 231kg weight favours stability on the road over the little jigs in tight spots. 

That’s the caveat here, the length in tight spots. In a way, that is just like a big maxi scooter – yet the CE 04 feels nimble and balanced beautifully in motion giving you the confidence to nip in gaps of traffic. Just be steady, you’re on a mute sausage dog that literally emits no noise, not even from the indicator.

Stints on the faster Barcelona ring roads showed the capabilities of smooth top speed riding, and time in the twisty hills showed it off as a capable weekend explorer if you want to roll your sleeves up and get a bit sporty.

Ultimately it’s great fun to ride, and throttle application and torque curve is seriously smooth. Depending on the mode you select, regenerative engine braking and outright acceleration power is adjusted to give you fine-tune control on ride feel – but it keeps a hold of the scooter sensibility whilst at it.

Scoot-ability

With the 231kg weight down low on this scoot, it’s a comfortable ride. The 780mm seat is firm, but accessible to all riders – plus there are 6 variations of bench options, including a backrest option (go for the ‘2’ option if you’re a taller rider, the ridge is further back and gives you more knee room at the expense of pillion space). 

Despite being quite low and squat, the fairing and tiny orange screen (with orange plastic that must have been taken from my high school DT lessons) deflects a noticeable amount of wind, and you can opt for a larger screen if you value comfort over aesthetic.

Accessed from the right-hand side, there is a compartment under the seat big enough for a large Shoei NXR2 (if you put it on its side, but maybe put it in a helmet bag as it could scuff your visor pushed in sideways). You can add a top box and pannier if you need more storage.

The 10.25” TFT screen is tremendous, and you’ll recognise it from other models in the range (like the R 18 B). Clear, customisable, smartphone integration with BMW Motorrad app, map directions are clear and all the information you’ll ever need is there. This contributes a huge amount to the luxury feel of the scooter.

Once you get your head around the switchgear and dial to navigate the screen, it becomes second nature to use. I found the buttons well laid out and satisfying to click around with. Importantly, mode selector and indicator switches are well positioned too.

Plus you’ll find a weather-proof compartment for your smartphone on the left, fitted with a USB-C slot and a little fan to keep it cool. 

Style

I like it. It’s different. The open rear end with exposed tyre, single-sided swingarm and unique geometry just does something for me. 

The CE 04 presents function over form; if you like the function it provides you can simply get used to the style. It’s different, stands out, and some may like that. We quite literally had people staring and taking photos of the fleet of journos silently gliding by in Barca – perhaps the spectacle played a part, but it certainly drew attention.

I asked if this is the beginning of a new design language from the Bavarian manufacturer, they said not quite – just that this new sector presented a fresh opportunity for new ideas with new tech, and BMW Motorrad is fully behind the unique style. 

Aimed at trendy Europeans and those with a penchant for standing out, the design team said as tech advances so does style; new tech breeds new opportunities. You begin to see this as a chance for the German marque to stretch their wings in an environment where they are often critiqued for being a tad clinical.

Authority use

We were shown the capabilities of the CE 04 as an ‘Authority Vehicle’ with a Police outfit with plenty of configurations per country, and it was seriously impressive. Plus two Spanish Policia Locale fellas turned up mid-launch on C Evolutions to check out the new scooters… which figures, over 160,000 Berlin-built bikes have gone to authorities over the years.

It wouldn’t surprise me if these are seen in cities globally.

What we like and don’t like 

+ It’s RAPID. A luxury tech heaven. Fun and easy to ride.
– Pricey, with long wheelbase it’s tough to manoeuvre in tight spaces, heavy engine braking but no brake lights.

Verdict

The BMW CE 04 is a luxury electric scooter that gives BMW a chance to try something new (with their electric history giving a huge hand to learn from their past). It gives the designers a chance to spread their wings a little, and with new tech comes new possibilities. The CE 04 will lead the charge from here on out for BMW Motorrad, until it is replaced by another electric two-wheeler with more advanced tech. 

As a 400cc equivalent maxi-scooter, it’s a superb electric city option for those with the budget for a luxury eco-friendly commuter. Though that is ultimately the issue, this CE 04 is not at the stage of being priced to be accessible to all riders – there are plenty of other alternative options that are far less premium. 

Off the line torque is addicting, it handles city streets well and it is stable at speed. Some will knock the range, but the target market is unlikely to venture past 80 miles in one hit – and those that do would have to live with an hour and a half wait for their next 80 miles – because they’d be mad to not pay for the quick charger. Only higher capacity batteries that weigh less will provide improvements here, and I have a feeling the Bavarians may be one of the first to get there.

Perhaps this scooter will serve a small segment of the two-wheeled community, but that segment is likely to be very happy with this offering. It does everything well, is good fun to ride and ultimately easy. This may sit at just over £14k fully specced, but minimal running costs have to be factored in to offset that – and other high-end combustion maxi scooters float around a similar price point.

It may be a robotic sausage dog, but it’s trendy and sustainable – and it may prove to be just as popular as the C Evolution that preceded it, laying the foundations for this rocket ship to fly. 

Huge thanks to BMW Motorrad for having us on the launch, head to BMW Motorrad for more, including in depth spec.

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