BMW is staking their claim in the electric car game with their newest concept vehicle, the Active E, which began the test phase in the United States in December 2011. The Active E, an all-electric vehicle, is the second phase of BMW's Project i, the company's exploration of a more efficient vehicle that began with the MINI E. The MINI E just ended field testing and BMW’s exploration will continue in 2013 with the BMW i3, an urban electric vehicle. The Active E is based on the 2-door BMW 1-Series and is offered in a leasing trial at $499 per month with a $2,250 down payment in several U.S. markets including Los Angeles, New York and Boston. As far as electric vehicles go, the Active E is considered to be very affordable, and the feedback from the trial users will be used to further develop the i3, which is now being referred to as the Megacity Vehicle.
So what does a highly recognizable brand like BMW bring to the electric car market? The Active E is a four-passenger sedan that is powered by an electric drivetrain and a lithium ion battery pack that replaces a traditional engine, transmission and fuel tank. The pack has a liquid cooling and heating system and is designed to be compact and highly efficient. A 125KW electric motor sits behind the rear axel. The vehicle is expected to go from 0 to 60 in about 8.5 seconds, which means that for a larger sedan with all-electric power, the vehicle has plenty of get-up and go. The Active E is limited electrically to go no faster than 90 miles per hour.
Although the size and necessary electric components make this a heavier vehicle than many of the electric or hybrid vehicles on the market, the Active E is still expected to have about 100 miles of real-world driving on one charge. According to BMW, it should only take 4.5 hours to fully charge the battery on a standard 220 volt outlet. And there's no need to worry that leaving the vehicle plugged in will drain your power as the power supply will be turned off automatically as soon as the vehicle is charged. The system used in the Active E is similar to the one used in the smaller MINI E, which testers reported was easy to charge overnight, caused little worry about running out of charge, and often did not need charging every day. BMW also plans to use the latest technology to connect drivers to their vehicles with a smart phone app that alerts drivers when the car has finished charging.
In addition to helping drivers know when the Active E is fully charged, BMW has another way drivers can establish a connection between their smart phone and their Active E vehicle. With BMW ConnectedDrive, drivers can heat or cool their car with their phone, allowing them to climb into a warm car on cold winter mornings, or get the air conditioning going before leaving the house on hot summer days. Other smart phone features include remote locking and unlocking and the ability to turn on the headlights remotely. Your smart phone can also help you locate nearby charging stations when you're out and about, so you don't have to worry about running out of battery power.
The reason BMW is taking the time and effort to explore the best way to make a near zero-emission vehicle that is convenient and comfortable for the people that own them is that they firmly believe this is the technology of the future, and it's being developed now. BMW has a long history of exploring electric vehicles, from the electrically powered 1972 Olympic Games marathon escort vehicle to the 1991 BMW E1 that featured Brake Energy Regeneration. This technology allowed braking energy to be converted to electricity and has since become standard on many BMW models, and is also featured on the Active E. With the possibilities brought by today's available lithium ion battery technology, BMW is working through these three vehicle trials toward a future where vehicles provide "mobility without emissions."
To learn more about the Active E and the leasing trial, visit http://www.bmw.com/.