BMW's new X2City folding electric kick scooter is a potentially landmark product for the brand in many ways, not the least of which is that it is the first BMW product that will be sold and serviced outside the global BMW dealership network.
The new 15 mph (25 km/h) X2City has an electric range of 25 to 35 kilometers (15-22 miles), and folds to a size that BMW claims is smaller than a folding bicycle. Viewed in comparison to the wider offerings of the marketplace, none of those qualities are game changers, but it does offer the BMW experience to new audiences for the first time in more than 70 years. BMW has been making bicycles since 1945, cars since 1929 and motorcycles since 1923.
Though no price has been established as yet, BMW has flagged the X2City will sell for less than €2,500 (US$2850) when it goes on sale in time for Christmas (2017).
That means the scooter is likely to be extraordinarily good. BMW's greatest asset is its reputation and the values associated with the name and the logo: robust, reliable, technologically advanced, easy to use and much better than average. Those premium qualities enable BMW to charge a premium price and there's no more critical time to deliver all of them than when addressing a new audience that you are hoping to upsell at a later date. You only get one chance to make a first impression and for a premium brand like BMW, the quality of that initial experience is paramount.
Beyond that, the X2City is also the first BMW product to address "last mile" transport, a very important factor in the coming years, given the world is urbanizing and urban roads are slowly choking on automobiles. All the automobile manufacturers are now scrambling to become transportation companies and though BMW has been making noises about heading in that direction, this is its first tentative step.
BMW's announcement a folding pedal-electric bike concept called the i Pedelec in 2012 shows the issue of carrying secondary transportation within its vehicles has been on the company's radar for some time, but for some reason it failed to turn the bike into a commercial reality. That's the i Pedelec above, and although the X2City won't be sold by BMW dealers, the following excerpt from the announcement press release leaves no doubt that's part of the plan: Thanks to its low weight of 20 kilograms and the foldable steering unit, the BMW Motorrad X2City can be stored easily in the luggage compartment of a small car. It is ready to use after a few easy steps and can take its rider from parking space or city limits to the final destination inside the congested city centre. The compact dimensions of the BMW Motorrad X2City also make it easy to transport in the bus or on the underground – the ideal solution for spontaneous and comfortable mobility in areas not reachable by motorised means of transport.
The X2City has been created in collaboration with the massive German bicycle company ZEG, and will be sold and serviced by more than 1000 dealerships across Germany alongside ZEG's other brands such as Kettler, Bulls, Pegasus and Hercules.
There have been no announcements of availability beyond Germany at this point, so if you can't wait until it comes to a bicycle shop near you, your best chance is to buy it online via the Kettler Alu-Rad site.
As a product, it is a little difficult to make informed comment at this point. The X2City operates as a traditional kick scooter and the rider needs to propel it up to 6 km/h before the electric drive can be engaged, and even then, there is no traditional "throttle." The operating unit on the handlebars offers five speeds in quantum jumps of 8, 12, 16, 20 and 25 km/h. The above image is all we have to imagine how that works, and it appears to work like a paddle-shift on a car, though operated with the right thumb.
The X2City is powered by a 408 Wh lithium ion battery enclosed beneath the running platform and is designed to be easily removed. We don't know if that ease-of-removal will make it equally accessible for thieves at this point, or how easy it will be to lock the X2City to a bike rack or telephone pole.
A battery management system with integrated power electronics is designed to ensure a range of 25 to 35 km in everyday use. A specific charging unit with magnetic connector makes for easy charging using the exterior charging socket on the scooter or directly at the battery itself. The battery is charged using a conventional household socket and it takes approx. 2.5 hours to charge an empty battery.
In Germany, the X2City is classified as a "Pedelec25" requiring no helmet or driving license, though legal requirements will differ for other markets.
In all, there's no doubt that movement is afoot in the mobility marketplace as BMW seeks to extend its relevance beyond the long traditional personal transport segments of cars, motorcycles and bikes.