Electric motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles all suffer from one common problem. Batteries are inherently heavy. Carrying that weight high up it the chassis diminishes the handling of any vehicle, but it is particularly worrisome in one with only two wheels.
At the Concorso d’Eleganza at the Villa d’Este in Italy last week, BMW introduced a new zero emissions electric scooter called the Motorrad Concept Zero which the company says represents its “vision of zero-emission urban mobility on two wheels.” The first thing people notice about the concept is that is carries the battery pack as low to the road as possible for nimble handling, a big plus for a scooter designed for fighting its way through traffic.
“The BMW Motorrad Concept Zero is not based on today’s concepts, but rather meets the basic functionality needs, the technical architecture and the digital reality of today’s users,” says Alexander Buckan, the chief of vehicle design at BMW Motorrad. “The technical realities of electric drive — such as the flat energy packs in the underfloor and the compact drive on the rear wheel — allowed us to create a highly distinctive design which shapes a new segment.”
Everything about the Concept Zero scooter is as futuristic as BMW engineers could make it. Although it is not intended for production, some of its features could show up on BMW products in years to come. There is no traditional gauge cluster, for instance. Instead, information about speed and range are displayed directly onto the windscreen via a heads up display. All other features of the bike are controlled by a touchscreen.
A special connected “rider’s jacket” allows communication with the scooter using hand gestures. The Concept Zero also knows what is in a rider’s calendar and will choose music for the journey it considers appropriate for the rider’s mood and tastes. Is it possible it could play Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf once it breaks free of traffic and gets out of the city and onto a two lane road?