With rival Audi now in control of Italian motorcycle company Ducati, BMW plans to renew its focus on building scooters. Although BMW Motorrad makes plenty of high-powered sports motorcycles, the company apparently wants to attract even more buyers with high-end scooters.
BMW previously sold the odd C1 scooter in Europe (pictured below). It had a roof to keep occupants dry during rain, but it went out of production in 2003. After rival car manufacturer Audi purchased Ducati, BMW decided it should try to recapture some former motorcycle owners. BMW refers to them as "sleepers" -- car owners who used to rides bikes in their youth, but switched to four-wheeled transport as they grew older.
BMW already launched two such "maxi scooters" in Europe last month, the C600 Sport and C650 GT (pictured at top). Rather than simple, slow, and primitive scooters, these models are designed to be more comfortable and stylish for riders, with plenty of performance for slicing through city traffic. The two scooters have 60-hp engines and can reportedly reach 109 mph, and can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 7.1 seconds.
This focus on scooters will help differentiate BMW's two-wheeled efforts from those of Audi. Ducatis are expensive, extremely powerful bikes; BMW's new scooters are designed to appeal more the everyday rider. In July, BMW Motorrad sold 10,140 motorcycles and maxi scooters. So far this year, the division has sold 69,329 such vehicles globally -- although that's down 3.2 percent compared to the first seven months of 2011.
A few years ago, BMW showed off the electric C1-E concept to show how it might build a modern version of its roof-equipped scooter. The C1-E was never put into production. However, BMW plans to launch an electric scooter by 2014. It will be called the C evolution and will co-opt the lithium-ion battery technology from BMW's upcoming i3 city car. BMW is currently road-testing the model in London. It is expected to travel about 62 miles on a single battery charge and have a top speed of 74 mph.
Sources: Bloomberg, BMW