BMW mulls electric motorcycles

BMW mulls electric motorcycles

The new C evolution maxi-scooter uses the battery modules of the latest BMW i3. BMW will test the C evolution on Thai roads.
The new C evolution maxi-scooter uses the battery modules of the latest BMW i3. BMW will test the C evolution on Thai roads.

BMW Group Thailand, a local arm of the German carmaker, is conducting a local feasibility study of electric motorcycles.

Newly appointed president Christian Wiedmann said BMW will test the C evolution maxi-scooter on Thai roads.

But he said the group has yet to make any decisions on the C evolution being imported or assembled in the country, though the local plant in Rayong province is one of three strategic plants for the group's motorcycle business.

The C evolution uses the battery modules of the latest BMW i3 100% electric vehicle (EV). One charge ranges up to 160km at a maximum speed of 130kph.

The bike will be sold commercially around July in the US market with a retail price of US$13,750 (440,949 baht).

Mr Wiedmann said the group remains committed to mass producing plug-in hybrid EVs at the Rayong plant, adding that the company applied for Board of Investment (BoI) EV incentives last year and set aside 400 million baht to prepare its production facility for this year's EV plan.

"We are waiting for the BoI to consider our project, and we are studying the feasibility for the battery EV scheme," he said. "Then we will evaluate whether to join the project or not."

Moreover, the German firm plans to localise assembly of PHEV batteries at its Rayong plant in 2019. Mr Wiedmann has said the company will disclose further details about investment budget and business partners in the next few months.

"Our new battery production is coming along as planned," Mr Wiedmann said.

The local BMW unit reported that its plug-in hybrid market has also shown signs of significant growth, with deliveries rising by 44% in the first four months of the year.

Mr Wiedmann said sales of plug-in hybrid EVs from January to April made up 18% of total BMW cars in the same period, with best-ever sales of 3,511 BMW units, an increase of 20% year-on-year.

The local arm has set a target for plug-in hybrid EVs to account for 20% of total sales in 2018, up from only 13% last year.

In a related development, the group underlined its EV vision locally with the announcement of new additions to BMW ConnectedDrive -- which links services and mobile apps for an improved experience -- for BMW plug-in hybrid EVs under collaboration with Microsoft, providing the Azure cloud computing service.

BMW Connected App currently has more than 2.3 million users and over 10 million connected BMW vehicles in 45 countries worldwide.

In Thailand, BMW's imported cars have been equipped with ConnectedDrive: the 4 Series, M5 and M7. The features will be soon installed in BMW's local assembled cars: the 330e, 530e and 740Le.

BMW plans to install the ConnectedDrive in all vehicle types, including Thai-made models.

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