BMW’s new two-wheeled vehicle is a little bit scooter, a
little bit motorcycle. The luxury car company says it designed the
‘maxi-scooter’ because it recognizes the growing need for ‘urban mobility
vehicles’ in cities where crowded streets pose challenges for drivers. Plus, the easy-on-gas vehicles reduce carbon
emissions, not to mention reducing the cost at the pump for drivers. Parking
the bikes is another plus in urban areas where finding a spot for a car can be
next to impossible.
BMW’s C650 GT and the C600 Sport can be referred to as
maxi-scooters, but BMW prefers to brand them with the ‘Urban Mobility Vehicle’
moniker. According to Motor
Trend, the term maxi-scooter is a bit of a misnomer, given that the vehicles
are, as they call them “… pretty hefty machines.” The C600 Sport weighs
slightly less than 550 pounds and the C650 GT totals a fifty 575 pounds. Both are capable ferocious speeds unheard of
in a scooter upwards of 100 miles per hour. They both have manual transmissions
and controls that are easier to use than most motorcycles, which make them more
accessible to non-bikers. The vehicles
both get around 50 miles per gallon.
For people who are used to driving a full-fledged
motorcycle, the UMV has a buzzy sound that’s more akin to a scooter, despite
its speed and power. Motor Trend liked the windscreen on the vehicles, saying
it does a good job of protecting the driver from the buffeting effects of
motion. The vehicles are manufactured at the BMW Motorrad factory in Berlin, at
the same location that manufactures BMW’s motorcycles.
Of the ease of driving the vehicles versus operating a
quotes BMW product manager Peter Maier as saying “For me, it’s a completely
different world compared to motorcycling. I don’t have to consider things that
I do while riding [a motorcycle]. I don’t have to wear my complete gear. It’s
just so easy.”
While scooters and motorcycles make up the bulk of vehicle
traffic in many of the world’s largest cities, they’ve been slow to take off in
North America, where they’re mostly considered recreational rides. BMW projects
that three-quarters of its sales of the GT and Sport will take place in Southern
Europe, particularly in France, Italy and Spain, where use of scooters and
motorcycles is widespread.
It remains to be seen whether a big jump to two
wheels is in the cards for U.S. drivers.
Let’s face it, for daily transportation, Americans prefer the quiet,
privacy and safety of cars, SUVs and trucks – and that preference is hard to
change. It’s probably more likely that electric and hybrid vehicles will allow
drivers to negotiate the dilemma of carbon emission reduction and high fuel
prices, without having to give up the convenience and protection of cars and