Bike maker is scoot­ing into elec­tric fu­ture

CON­CEPT NEWS/ Mark Smyth re­ports on BMW Mo­tor­rad’s lat­est de­sign study, the Con­cept Link

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

If there is one as­pect of trans­port that seems to fit elec­tri­fi­ca­tion more than any other, it’s scoot­ers. In cities around the world thou­sands of com­muters travel ev­ery day on a scooter, of­ten trav­el­ling short dis­tances to get to work or to con­duct their work. Glob­ally, there is a mas­sive scooter in­dus­try.

Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion in the twowheeled mar­ket has not been as big as you might ex­pect. There are play­ers such as Zero, BMW and a num­ber of Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers but de­spite the ob­vi­ous fit, the in­dus­try and con­sumers have been slower to take to elec­tric bikes than one might have ex­pected.

This does not mean the in­dus­try is not plan­ning for a day when elec­tric bikes and scoot­ers will be the big thing though. In 2016, we were in Los An­ge­les when BMW Mo­tor­rad re­vealed its Vi­sion Next 100 bike con­cept, a proper mo­tor­bike packed with tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing the rather un­nat­u­ral abil­ity up­right by it­self.

Now the com­pany has shown its vi­sion for the scooter mar­ket by re­veal­ing its Con­cept Link at the Con­corso d’Ele­ganza Villa d’Este in Italy re­cently.

The com­pany is on a mis­sion, with Stephan Schaller, CEO of BMW Mo­tor­rad, con­firm­ing that it is well on track to achieve its goal of sell­ing 200,000 units per year by 2020. In 2017 alone it is launch­ing 17 new prod­ucts, but it is not done there.

“We don’t want to wait. Within the next six years we want lots of new prod­uct,” he says.

One is the Con­cept Link, a full elec­tric-drive scooter that Edgar Henirich, head of de­sign at BMW Mo­tor­rad, de­scribes as a “vi­sion of fu­ture two-wheeled mo­bil­ity in ur­ban ar­eas”.

He says it com­bines dig­i­tal needs with com­mut­ing needs, go­ing be­yond just be­ing a means of trans­port to be­com­ing a fully mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vice.

To that end it has min­i­mal in­stru­men­ta­tion, with es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion be­ing sup­plied in to re­main the rider’s field of vi­sion via a head-up dis­play, but there is a sec­ondary touch­screen with full con­nec­tiv­ity. That screen can mon­i­tor ev­ery­thing from nav­i­ga­tion to the rider’s cal­en­dar and BMW says the sys­tem will even be able to se­lect suit­able mu­sic for the route.

Con­nec­tiv­ity of the fu­ture also means a con­nec­tion be­tween the bike, the rider and their gear. The con­cept was re­vealed along with a chap wear­ing a con­nected jacket. By swip­ing his hand down the arm of the jacket, he was able to open the stor­age com­part­ment in the side of the scooter.

Stor­age is a big thing with the con­cept, be­cause go­ing elec­tric means there is no need for a tra­di­tional com­bus­tion en­gine and this al­lows de­sign­ers to pack­age things very dif­fer­ently.

It “is not based on to­day’s con­cepts, but meets the ba­sic func­tion­al­ity needs, tech­ni­cal ar­chi­tec­ture and the dig­i­tal re­al­ity of to­day’s users”, says Alexan­der Buckan, head of ve­hi­cle de­sign at BMW Mo­tor­rad.

DIS­TINC­TIVE DE­SIGN

“The tech­ni­cal re­al­i­ties of elec­tric drive — such as the flat en­ergy packs in the un­der­floor and the com­pact drive on the rear wheel — al­lowed us to cre­ate a dis­tinc­tive de­sign which shapes a new seg­ment. The re­sult­ing ex­pres­sive power of the ve­hi­cle is new for BMW Mo­tor­rad and breaks with all con­ven­tional view­ing pat­terns.”

The de­sign is def­i­nitely un­con­ven­tional, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to that plas­tic seat, which you have to hope will be re­placed by some­thing you can ac­tu­ally sit on if the scooter makes it to pro­duc­tion.

While many of the com­po­nents are hid­den, oth­ers are vis­i­ble, such as the elec­tric drive unit and or­ange ca­bles that light up on one side be­tween the bat­tery pack and the mo­tor.

The con­cept is all about de­sign though, so BMW did not re­lease any de­tails about the mo­tor, pos­si­ble range or even how it plans to put some­thing sim­i­lar into pro­duc­tion. How­ever, with the Con­cept Link be­ing its sec­ond ma­jor elec­tric bike con­cept re­veal in less than a year, it looks to us as though the com­pany has a real plan.

The BMW Mo­tor­rad Con­cept Link is a de­sign study but the com­pany has big plans for elec­tri­fy­ing two-wheeled trans­port.

Es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion is beamed onto a head-up dis­play, with the touch­screen con­nect­ing the rider to the world.

Swip­ing your hand down the sleeve of the rider jacket opens a stor­age area.

That seat might have to be changed if any­one is go­ing to sit on it for longer than two min­utes.

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