Rich Steinberg Interview: Electric Bimmer Man

How is the program for the 1-series electric, the ActiveE, going to be different?
It's coming in 2011. It will be a similar field trial. We'll have more cars but still fewer than 1000. We'll return to L.A. and New York, but we're also considering expansion to other areas. All this is part of something called Project i. Project i addresses mobility and sustainability for people who live in megacities. The Mini E was the first effort out of that group, and the things we learn about the technology and driver habits are going back to the engineers who are working on this thing called the Megacity Vehicle, which should come out no later than 2015. The ActiveE is sort of the in-between step; it uses the same battery and powertrain that will end up in the Megacity Vehicle.

The Megacity Vehicle won't be a Mini or a BMW?
It's a new sub-brand of the BMW group. It will be a volume, series-production vehicle with nationwide distribution.

We're looking at electric-only as our going-in position but also exploring extended-range electrics - the [Chevrolet] Volt solution - as another way to address consumer desires.

It seems that the city-car philosophy was the earlier notion of what an electric vehicle would be, but the more recent thinking is for electrics to come into the market from the top down, with high performance, and a high price tag, because the technology is very expensive . . .
You're right. But from our perspective, our entry into the electric world is with the megacity solution, at the entry-level area. At the high end, the combination of diesel and hybrid [as seen in BMW's Frankfurt show car] is something we're also looking at.

Mini E Connectivity

1 Power electronics
2 Control module
3 Battery
4 Electric motor
5 Electric vacuum pump
6 Transaxle
7 High-voltage cable
8 Contractor box
9 Charging plug
10 Service disconnect

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