BMW C1-E Electric Scooter
BMW C1. Photos and text courtesy BMW Motorrad.
BMW Revives the C1-E
Concept for Urban Travel
Edited by webBikeWorld.com
1990's BMW C1 Now With Electric Motor
Proposed as Solution for Urban Travel
BMW fans will remember the BMW C1 from the 1990's; an
interesting and unique scooter with a cover that did not
require a helmet for the rider.
About 10,000 C1's were manufactured by BMW from 1992
to 2002 and sold in Europe. Some European
countries allowed owners to ride the C1 without a
helmet, but the UK government would not allow this,
which hurt C1 sales in what was expected to be its
The C1 was ahead of its time, but it's good to see that
BMW has not given up on the concept. A press
release from BMW dated October 6, 2009, indicates that
the idea is still alive and well, and it may be an
answer for modern intra-city transportation. An
edited version of the press release follows.
This is what a safe, environment-friendly and highly
practical single track vehicle for city traffic could
look like in the future.
BMW Motorrad developed the C1-E study as a
contribution to the European safety project
This study unit is based on the concept of the BMW C1;
it is characterized by a very high level of active and
passive safety and is driven by an electric motor.
is an acronym for "European Safer Urban Motorcycling".
It is a cooperation project between major urban European
motorcycling centers and motorcycle manufacturers.
The cities currently involved in the project include
Paris, Rome, Barcelona and London and the manufacturers
are BMW and Piaggio.
The advantage of two-wheeled transportation is that
it offers a great opportunity for improving the flow of
traffic in urban locations. Moreover, it is
environmentally friendly and lends itself to
However, the vast majority of accidents occur in
urban traffic, in areas where 80 percent of the
population live. The idea behind eSum is to look
into ways of countering this trend. The joint goal
is the identification, development, and practical
demonstration of measures which are able to guarantee
safe motorcycle and motor-scooter transport in the
inner-city traffic of the future.
The BMW C1-E provides exemplary protection for its
rider. This is ensured by the safety cell with the
conspicuous roll-over bar which dynamically spans the
rider seat in combination with the energy-absorbing
impact element at the nose end. A further special
point is that the C1-E rider wears a seat belt, which is
highlighted by red belts and belt buckles in this
Visually, the concept vehicle expresses brand typical
sheer driving pleasure and clearly distinguishes itself
from typical scooter looks.
Its lines are dynamically stretched and flow
horizontally with a low visual centre of gravity.
The fairing with its windscreen, the luggage space
behind the rider and the side stand for effortless
parking ensure high suitability for everyday riding
combined with a high degree of wind and weather
The electric motor employed in the study has been
designed for city use and is based on components by the
Vectrix scooter company (Editor's Note: Vectrix filed
for bankruptcy in September of 2009).
The motor obtains its power from a lithium-ion
battery and thus possesses sufficient power for
mastering most inner-city traffic riding with ease.
Alternatively, the vehicle could also be equipped with
an efficient, low-emissions internal combustion engine.
The safety features of the C1-E have been taken from
the former BMW C1 and further enhanced. BMW's
avant-garde two-wheeler is regarded as a milestone in
safety on two wheels. It is the only motorized
single-track vehicle to be exempt from mandatory helmet
wearing in almost all European countries.
This BMW Motorrad study is likely to remain the only
model of its kind. Series production is currently
not planned; nevertheless, findings from the project
will find their way into other future developments in
the field of single-track vehicles.
One of BMW Motorrad's major concerns over the last
twenty years has been the improvement of motorcycle
safety. This was amply demonstrated by the
consistent strategy which has led to the Motorrad ABS
and continued with its long-term ongoing development.
Only a few weeks ago, on August 31, the 1,000,000th BMW
motorcycle with Integral ABS, a BMW K 1300 R, left the
production line in Berlin-Spandau.
Since 2005, a series of further active safety
features have been developed to enhance the safety BMW
motorcycles still further: RDC Tire Pressure
Control, ASC Anti-Slip Control, the new Race ABS and the
DTC Traction Control incorporated in the new BMW S 1000
RR, not to mention the innovative range of BMW Motorrad
Over and above this, BMW Motorrad is also conducting
research into forward-looking rider assistance systems
designed to increased road safety, as part of BMW's
ConnectedRide project. ConnectedRide provides
vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology designed to
help reduce vehicle accidents.
Features being looked at include cross-traffic and
traffic-light assistance as well as a warning system for
impending poor weather, road obstacles, an approaching
emergency vehicle, or sudden braking maneuvers.
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From "M.A.H." (06/2011): "it is with
great interest that I read this article, bearing on mind
the often high quality of all, of your editorials. I as
a rider (RT 1200 SE) driver (123 D) and follower of BMW
engineering, innovative and creative designs; would
truly appreciate you could pass comments of
encouragement to BMW Motorrad, in regards to C1 and E-C1
projects, I would love to have the opportunity to have
one or even two of this very smart scooters, ideally
with larger capacity power plants and in electric form
Editor's Note: Not sure if the C1-E
will ever reach production, but BMW has stated that they
will manufacture a version of the
Scooter, which will be for sale to the public.