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BMW unveils the ActiveE, an all-electric 1 Series

Consumer Reports News: April 18, 2011 04:08 PM

BMW unveiled its second-generation electric car, the ActiveE at a BMW dealership in Manhattan today. The ActiveE is an all-electric version of the BMW 1 Series coupe, with a claimed 100-mile driving range from its lithium-ion batteries. With the batteries tucked neatly away under the floor, the back seat of the ActiveE isn't consumed by batteries, as was the case with the Mini E that preceded it. Unfortunately, trunk space is compromised, but there's still ample space left for a few grocery bags, unlike in the Mini E. (Learn more about the Mini E by reading, "My year of driving electric.")

Rich Steinberg, BMW's director of advanced vehicles, says the company learned a lot of lessons from the Mini E lease program, which rolled out 450 Mini E hatchbacks to U.S. customers in what Steinberg calls a "collective engineering" project. One of the biggest findings was a 20-30 percent reduction in range in cold weather. (We have learned that lesson well driving EVs and plug-in hybrids this past winter.)

BMW-ActiveE-1-Series-trunk.jpgIn response to that feedback, the ActiveE adopts technology now common on other electric cars, with liquid-cooled and heated batteries and software that can preheat or cool the cabin while the car is plugged in.

The ActiveE also uses a faster charger than other electric cars, capable of giving its giant 33 kwh battery pack a full charge in 3-5 hours on a standard 240-volt Level 2 charging station.

To spur the rollout of electric cars, BMW also released an app for iPhones and Android smart phones called BMW Evolve. Once downloaded, you turn on the app every time you drive, and it will tell you whether your driving patterns could accommodate an electric car. You don't even have to have a BMW to try it out.

The ActiveE is a precursor of BMW's first dedicated electric vehicle, the i3, a carbon-fiber hatchback designed for people who live in large cities, such as New York, London, or Shanghai. The i3 is expected to debut in 2013.

Following along with our New York auto show coverage, and check out our guide to alternative fuel vehicles.

Eric Evarts

   

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