BMW e-scooter gets Olympic trial

By Dorothee Tschampa

London games visitors to get early taste of BMW's C Evolution.

BMW, the world's biggest maker of luxury cars, will let selected London Olympics visitors ride prototype electric scooters during the Games as it accelerates expansion of its two-wheeler lineup.

The C Evolution model was introduced in the British capital at the start of a Europewide promotional tour planned for the rechargeable scooters that BMW aims to sell in two years, the Munich-based manufacturer said.

"We plan to bring the scooter in a very similar form to market in 2014," Rudolf-Andreas Probst, a spokesman for BMW's motorcycle division, said. "Beforehand, we need to clarify some technical and marketing aspects."

The company, which owns the BMW and Husqvarna motorcycle brands, is adding to a line it revived last month with the market introduction of two petrol-powered scooters.

The C Evolution will be equipped with the same lithium-ion electricity-storage modules that BMW plans to use in the i3 four-seat compact car going on sale late next year.

BMW would offer C Evolutions for use as shuttle vehicles by journalists covering the Olympics as well as by unspecified "VIPs" and the carmaker's employees, Probst said.

BMW would have its own charging stations for the scooters in London, though the version to go on sale would be equipped to use regular household sockets, he said.

BMW said it was looking at co-operating with car-sharing and vehicle-rental companies to add the C Evolution to their fleets during the model's test phase.

BMW New Zealand is waiting until the C Evolution production plan and launch date are set before deciding whether to bring the scooter here.

The C Evolution, with a range of 100km and a top speed of 120km/h, is part of BMW's effort to develop low-emission models both for urban use and enjoyable driving. The carmaker is positioning the battery-powered i3 as a city car, and is developing a plug-in hybrid supercar, the i8, scheduled to go on sale in two years.

The electric scooter will compete with a model that Daimler's Smart city-car brand also plans to put on sale in 2014. Smart already offers an electric-powered bicycle for €2849 ($4320) in Germany. Motorcycle dealers in Europe began offering BMW's more mainstream petrol-powered C600 sport and C650 GT maxiscooters last month, and the company says it is aiming for 10,000 deliveries a year of the two next year.

It ended production of its enclosed C1 scooter nine years ago.

- Bloomberg

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