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It’s A Scooter-Cycle! BMW’s New Urban Mobility Vehicle

BMW Maxi-ScooterBMW’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 motorcycle, Cycleworld 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 trucks.