Industry

BMW pours cold water on its electric motorcycle future plans

BMW Motorrad says it won't be bringing an electric motorcycle to market for five years as the CEO plays down the effect the movement will have on industry

BMW Motorrad’s CEO has caused a stir by revealing the firm has no plans to bring an electric motorcycle to the market for another five years at least, and even then it will be designed purely for urban commuting purposes.

The German marque has been one of the more pro-active drivers of electric motorcycle technology over the last few years through various concept models – such as 2019’s BMW Vision DC Roadster – and patents for charging technology. It has even gone to the effort of producing a prototype designed to out-drag a fuel-powered equivalent in a viral video.

And yet, BMW Motorrad CEO Markus Schramm has gone on record with Cycle World to say the German marque isn’t nearly as far down the zero tailpipe emissions route as its activity would have you believe, saying there will be no new model for at least five years.

Moreover, while Schramm admits electric does feature in BMW’s future plans, he expects the market to stay true to its roots with a mainstream audience that will always prefer conventional power in premium sectors.

“As the Vision DC Roadster concept shows, we see this as a power portfolio of the future. In the urban environment, it is possible that there will be an electric BMW motorcycle in five years. In the touring, off-road, and sport segments, I am not sure that we will see them.

“I am convinced that the motorcycle as a product becomes more and more important — not about commuting, but as leisure product. Electric mobility will be important for motorcycles in urban areas within five years.”

Has BMW just set the electric movement back?

While most motorcycle manufacturers have been somewhat lethargic in laying out their plans for an electric future, ironically BMW seemed to be one of the few big names to have made significant headway.

And yet for the design studies and technological showcases, BMW only sees electric power as being a feature of its range, rather than pioneering the advancement of it.

From BMW’s perspective this perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise.

It’s core models – the big-selling GS range – aren’t conducive to being adapted for electric technology and it doesn’t offer much in the way of low displacement commuter motorcycling, machines arguably stand to benefit most from going zero emissions. Indeed, it already offers the C evolution electric scooter but that is as far as it is set to go.

This isn’t BMW washing it hands of electric technology, more emphasising it isn’t going to take over from its conventionally powered models which will – for now and the foreseeable future – still need pumping up at a petrol station.

Which will come as fuel driven music to the ears of motorcycling’s traditionalists…

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