BMW Moves Methodically Toward Electric Cars

Active E, an electric 1-series, is the next text platform for a BMW electric car.

One step at a time—slowly but surely—BMW is developing the knowledge and capacity to deliver a small all-electric car by 2013. In 2009, the company began leasing an electric two-passenger version of the Mini Cooper to about 600 drivers in California, New York, and New Jersey. That program was designed to help BMW learn about real-world driving and charging experiences.

Beginning in 2011, a similar number of drivers will lease BMW’s next electric test vehicle, the four-passenger ActiveE—essentially an electric-drive version of the BMW 1-series. The ActiveE will allow the company to further refine the requirements for a line of large-volume future electric cars, as part of its “Megacity” project. That name, the current working title for its 2013 small electric car, is based on the idea of targeting urban commuters in, well, megacities. Although the ActiveE will cleverly package the power electronics to allow for a decent sized trunk, the Megacity is expected to be a four-seat, three-door hatchback—similar in size to a Honda Fit.

The ActiveE puts out 125 kilowatts (170 horsepower), a similar amount of power as found on other 1-series Bimmers. The ActiveE’s 32-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack is slightly smaller than the Mini E’s. All of the vehicles apparently are targeting about 100 miles of range on a single charge—although aggressive driving and cold weather conditions have reduced the Mini E’s range by 20 or 30 miles according to multiple reports from drivers. That’s exactly the kind of information that BMW wants to gather from its test drivers. And that’s why the ActiveE will use liquid cooling to control temperature range, as a strategy to maintain driving range despite cold weather.

BMW appears to be very serious and specific about its electric car program. For example, the company yesterday announced it will use its plant in Lepzig to produce the electric vehicles. The inside story is that BMW executives believe that zero-emission electric cars, and fuel cells for that matter, are a must—that is, if the company is going to meet stricter guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the world’s major global auto markets.


  • ex-EV1 driver

    … and they keep leasing them out in hopes that the electric car nightmare (for ICE car companies, not consumers or the planet) will end, then they can take the cars back and crush them.

  • Robert (electricman) Weekley

    Or Maybe – they need to just get a variety of field tests from a variety of Crazy Drivers to see just how bad and inneficient we Realy Do Drive!

    But then – Why has none of the Universities – taken their EV1′s and done a 3D Scan of them – and make a slightly larger version of the body and come out with the VE1? (Very Efficient One).

    GM Has no Patent on curves, and shapes, but can take away the donated EV1′s if the universities put THEM on the road (and at least one has done so and been threatened with breach of agreements), but – it was donated to them for research – so – Reasearch!! Pick them apart and make better copies – like the Japanese were known for doing!

    Make the new one Lithium Powered, fast charging capable, and with more elbow room (I sat in one – I am 6’3″, and they are tight!), more leg room, and a bit more space for groceries, of even a couple sets of clubs! I have a picture of a 4-seat EV1 – so there were larger versions in the works by GM way back.

  • Not really

    Not really… Maybe they are just waiting to see how much market other companies can drive before they decide to go in with about 60% more effort.

    They can wait all they want; I still have no faith in giant car companies; when many small startups are doing great with only a fraction of the budget.

    Look at the Goss132 EV. Excellent traditional design. Look at Tesla; same thing ( though Tesla far too expensive ), then there’s Phoenix, Coda, Th!nk… There are a bunch of these smaller companies doing the job just fine.

    I would like nothing more than Goss132 to dominate the market, and see what kind of competition that will generate to the big co’s.

  • todd

    Its about time that the luxury market starts moving into this direction. In the past I was hard pressed to find luxury electric cars. MY client, Low Cost Power strives to reduce Electric costs through increasing competition among Electricity Suppliers.

  • jthapa

    Most important feature is power one touch windows going both up and down with one touch of a button. Center tear is your stable finest sound system. This sound system is amazing with first-class HI FI crisp sound

  • Mr. Fusion

    The more I read about all these companies, big and small, investing so much capitol into EV, the more I am convinced that we are going to make it as a technologically advanced civilization. Electric vehicles are here to stay and we can tell our grand kids how inefficient, dirty and noisy the world used to be.

    jthapa: what?

  • Michael E

    If this car is as heavy as the Mini E, with just as poor of weight distribution, then I don’t want it. Just gimme the 130D please.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Robert (electricman) Weekley ,
    One of the nicest things about the electric drivetrain is that it can be made to not suffer as badly from inefficient driving (fast starts and stops) as an ICE.
    Certainly, anyone could build another highly aerodynamic vehicle. Aptera (www.aptera.com) is taking that approach now. GM won’t that would require that their senior management admit they were wrong – something that corporate officers don’t do.

  • Pratik Joshi

    BWM is known to be one of the best reputed brand all over the world. As fuel prices are increasing day by day with a lightening speed it is a great step by BMW to move towards Electric cars.

    http://www.superautoinc.com

  • Jack Willson

    Intelligent Step,
    Moving toward electric car is really a nice step in current situation. As all customers are running towards electric cars due increasing rate of other fuels. BMW is well known for decision which has make his very successful.

    http://www.motorseller.net

  • Jack Willson

    Intelligent Step,
    Moving toward electric car is really a nice step in current situation. As all customers are running towards electric cars due increasing rate of other fuels. BMW is well known for decision which has make his very successful.

    http://www.motorseller.net

  • tapra2

    All of the vehicles apparently are targeting about 100 miles of range on a single charge—although aggressive driving and cold weather.Technology Review