by Anmol AhujaNov 16, 2020
BMW continues to make strides in exploring new avenues for innovation in the future of mobility in the electronic age, especially in expanding its market in the electric segment. With the BMWi specifically dealing with innovation in the circuit of plug-in electric mobility, its dedicated bike division, the BMW Motorrad isn’t far behind when it comes to leading the way with fossil-free innovations with a dash of the motor company’s signature good looks. With innovative architecture and a sleek, edgy design defining its chassis and skin, this new vehicle that may be termed a high fidelity prototype, nearly 90 per cent close to how the actual product would look like, has been physically tested on roads and seeks to link the analogue and digital worlds of the user.
The innovative two-wheeler, being developed at BMW since 2013 beginning with the BMW C Evolution scooter, comes bearing the motto “plugged to life”, and stands true to the testament with its truly unique and innovative connectivity solutions, previously unheard of in the scooter segment. Its corresponding intelligent rider equipment aims to create a holistic mobility experience for the new age urban rider: this rings especially true seeing how enhanced connectivity along with increasingly haphazard urban expansion has been characteristic of our cities.
According to Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design at BMW Motorrad, the CE 04 intends to take urban two wheeler mobility to the next level, not just technically, but also visually. Taking a cue from the cyberpunk genre, the visual design of the CE 04 interestingly merges a definitive neon sensibility with radicalism and “production-readiness with almost unchanged design” from the 2017 iteration presented earlier. This implies that what may have seemed like a thing of the distant future a while ago, may not be too far away in its physical manifestation. "We have managed to transfer many innovative elements and details of the concept into the series. The technical realities of electric drive – such as the flat energy packs in the underfloor and the compact drive train – allow us to create a highly distinctive design which defines a new, urban aesthetic and which differentiates itself clearly from conventional styling,” states Alexander Buckan, Head of Vehicle Design at BMW Motorrad. The vehicle, as showcased at the #NEXTGen, sported a mineral white metallic body over a matte black core, the scooter’s technical body. Highlighted by a racy orange, the suspension elements are essentially concealed toward the front, while the vehicle allows a peak at its boxed in drive unit, and its cooling ribs, single-sided swing arm, spring strut and tooth belt. Two U-shaped LED lights shape out its slim contoured front, while two C-shaped LEDs form the stylish yet minimal rear lights.
In its mission to redefine the conventional notions of a scooter right at the top of their memo, Motorrad takes it a step further from how it looks, to how it functions as well. Full electric mobility comes with the brief, surely, but the absence of a tank and its design and placement of the flat battery in the vehicle’s underbody affords a number of other freedoms. In its relatively compact body defined with its sharp, sleek edges, the right side from the rider’s view has a large illuminated compartment for helmet and equipment storage. The battery’s position on the lower part of the chassis also lends the vehicle a suitable centre of gravity, ensuring dynamic and ergonomic handling even at higher speeds. While not self-balancing like a number of its other ‘concept’innovations that require a much greater wheel depth, this still seems like an excellent (and economic) design solution towards the safety of the rider, while the body ‘skin’ and body remain essentially lightweight.
The CE 04 also comes sporting a 10.25 inch display, the largest in its segment, which riders can connect to via their smartphones, taking the interaction between the rider and the machine a notch higher to inspire new avenues in safety, comfort, and the rider’s personal experience. It gets cooler though: the CE 04 comes as a complete package with specially designed rider equipment in tow. Black riding jeans, a clean cut white parka jacket, colour complementary sneakers, and a white open face helmet complete the look. Not just that, the parka comes fully loaded with flexible protectors inscribed within for enhanced fall safety, is waterproof, robust, comes with colour-interchangeable LED guides through sensors in the arms for increased rider visibility in traffic, and inductive charging for phones within its inner pocket. It however is important to note that the designers at BMW Motorrad were very clear who this product caters to: the practical urban everyday commuter, for short commutes close to 12 kms a day on a single charge, including work, home, leisure and errands within the city. It is not intended for off roading or for driving on difficult terrain, which is where ergonomic design and easy accessibility in a relatively nano-sized package take preference over long distance feasibility. The looks, though? That is a different question altogether.