Aussie electric vehicle (EV) owner interview – I spoke with Boden Matthews about their purchase of a BMW Motorrad CE 04 2023 (Avantgarde pack) and experience driving, servicing, charging etc.
EDITOR: I’m publishing a regular series of articles with the views of Australian EV owners about their EV ownership experience.
This will help fill an information gap as the majority of electric car news articles are about new car launches and there’s relatively little published about the longer term Australian ownership experience after you’ve paid for your electric scooter. Hopefully this shared information helps other Aussies make their own EV purchase decision.
Was your electric scooter bought or leased?
Please describe your purchasing / lease process experience … Easy, Mediocre, Frustrating..?
Mostly easy, really no different to buying any other motorcycle/scooter from BMW. Originally I placed my order in late August of 2022, with delivery estimated to be in late January or early February of 2023.
Then there some issues with delays that were largely outside of BMW’s control, initially there was a delay to the bike being built due to the war in Ukraine disrupting supply of wiring harnesses for the CE 04 and then once the bike was built there was a dockworker’s strike in Germany that further delayed shipment for a few weeks.
I ended up receiving the bike in mid-May 2023, and the dealer did keep me up to date throughout the process on where the bike was at.
What has the regular servicing / dealership experience been like?
Easy with zero hassles, loaner bike was provided by the dealership while they had mine in for servicing.
How do you regularly charge your scooter for day to day usage?
- plug in to standard PowerPoint at home (when there’s spare solar power)
- plug in to standard PowerPoint at home (whenever it’s convenient for me)
What has your day to day normal charging experience been like?
Pretty straightforward, I charge the bike typically once a week (usually on a Saturday morning when there’s plenty of sun on the panels) off of a standard 10A powerpoint I had put into the garage next to where I park the bike.
That lasts me for my 3 days of commuting with a bit of buffer left over.
How do you charge your scooter for longer road trips on the weekend or during holidays? Do you prefer any particular brand of public fast charger during road trips eg Evie, Tesla, Chargefox and why?
Due to the bike’s relatively small battery (8.5kWh usable) and lack of DCFC, I tend to make heavy use of public Type 2 AC chargers if I’m on a longer ride.
I tend to favour QESH/Chargefox and Elanga chargers, as they typically have AC chargers alongside their DC stalls in places near where I already plan to be or along my route.
What’s the farthest road trip you’ve done in your EV and what did you learn from this experience that would be useful for others to know?
I rode it from my house on the southside of Brisbane up to Kenilworth Homestead for a weekend of camping, an approx. 300km round trip (keep in mind this scooter has a range of approx. 90-100km at highway speeds on flat ground).
Probably the biggest thing to keep in mind is that it’s better to charge more frequently and for shorter time periods instead of trying to max out the battery and spending twice as long on the charger as necessary.
Going from 0-80% on the scooter takes about an hour at the maximum 7kW charge rate, but to go up to 100% takes an additional 30-40 minutes on top of that
So unless I’m stopping to eat or shop or it’s absolutely necessary I don’t charge past 80%.
Does your EV have any special features like V2L reverse charging from the car to your portable/home appliances? If yes please share your experience using this special feature
If you have roadside assist included with the car purchase/lease and have had to use it, which company provided the service and what was that experience like?
BMW includes 3yrs of roadside assist with the bike, but I haven’t had to use it yet (and fingers crossed I don’t!).
To my understanding the service is contracted out to Allianz.
If you have had issues with your scooter and asked for these to be fixed under warranty, did the car brand do the right thing and fix it without causing you stress?
No issues to report.
What are the 3 strongest aspects of your electric car compared to other similar price electric cars available in Australia?
1. Right now, the CE 04 I feel is filling an otherwise empty gap in the market of electric motorcycles/scooters making it difficult to compare, everything else available is either cheaper but with significantly less power and/or range (also restricting them to urban/suburban use only), or has more range and power but also costs significantly more.
2. Over a petrol scooter, you have the advantages of that instant electric torque (none of that rubbish rubber-band feeling you typically get from a CVT-equipped petrol scooter when taking off!), essentially zero noise (great for not annoying the neighbours if you come home or leave late at night or in the wee hours) plus the hefty battery pack being positioned at the bottom of the frame like on an electric car means the centre of gravity is ultra low (with a rider sitting on the bike, the pack is actually below the centreline of the wheels!) and makes the bike extremely easy to balance at low speeds which makes lane filtering an absolute doddle.
3. Lots of standard equipment: In terms of equipment/features, given the relatively high pricetag (I paid around $25k) BMW throws everything in, including the kitchen sink. You get heated grips, a heated seat (lovely for those early morning commutes in winter), switchable riding modes, stability control and ABS (including cornering ABS, a feature typically reserved for fairly high end ICE motorcycles), a huge 10.25″ TFT dash with phone connectivity, proximity key, auto headlights with cornering functionality, and the list goes on. In fact, the only options for the Australian market are colour, the quick charger (enables 3-phase charging and raises the maximum charge rate to 7kW (1P and 3P) from 2.3kW), and an alarm system controlled from the buttons on the proximity key fob.
What are the 3 weakest aspects of your electric scooter compared to other similar price electric cars available in Australia?
1. Given the lack of direct competition (and lack of electric options in general), probably the weakest aspect of this bike is the price compared to that of a regular petrol scooter. BMW’s own C 400 X and C 400 GT scooters are about half the price to buy, and their relatively low running cost blows out the breakeven on the CE 04 to a massive degree.
To buy one of these, like most electric motorcycles, you really have to be into the idea of owning an electric motorcycle, making it more of a heart purchase than a head one (which is totally fine, a motorcycle is already a heart purchase for the majority of people anyway). This is an issue that probably won’t be resolved for a while, until the cost of batteries can come down enough to bring the price closer to parity with its petrol powered siblings.
2. Range may also be an issue for some people, BMW quotes 130km (WMTC) range, and if you ride gently that is definitely achievable, so for around town and most commutes that should be more than enough. However if you like to ride further on weekends you will be limited to areas and routes with AC chargers along them. Depending on where you live that could be very hit and miss.
3. Thanks to some arguably not well thought through aspects of motorcycle licencing, this requires an unrestricted R class licence to ride due to it having more than 25kW as an electric motorcycle, despite having a power to weight ratio well under the regular LAMS limit and performance largely in line with the typical 400-500cc maxiscooter, although this is more of an issue with how motorcycle licencing is done rather than an issue with the scooter itself, and this may change in the future.
Would you buy or lease this brand of electric scooter again and recommend it to others?
Absolutely, if BMW makes a “CE 06” or similar model with a bigger battery and more performance I would be first in line to upgrade.
Given how much I like the CE 04 I would have confidence that another model would be just as well sorted and put together.
Do you have any other comments about your electric scooter brand, experience etc?
I would suggest to anyone reading this who is on the fence about going EV to consider going the two-wheeled route as a way to dip your feet in the water to the EV ownership experience without having to commit wholesale to a much more expensive electric car.
As a bonus electric motorcycles and scooters have a significantly lower environmental impact to build than an EV car due to their much smaller batteries.
You also get all of the benefits of two-wheeled commuting like lane filtering, easy and cheap (often free!) parking, and best of all, it’s a hell of a lot more fun than sitting still in traffic.
If you’re an Australian electric vehicle owner and would like to participate in this interview series by sharing your experience please contact me directly or add a comment below and let me know.