BMW began its electric vehicle field trials last year with a lease program for its Mini E in Los Angeles and New York City. BMW just announced that it will expand beyond those markets with its second EV field trial, the BMW ActiveE, to include select markets in California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
"We were the first automaker to put 450 electric vehicles on U.S. roads for daily use," said Rich Steinberg, manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy for BMW North America. "We have gained so much insight into living with an EV with our Mini E pioneers over the last year...We're looking forward to working with more drivers in more markets to build on our base of experience as we get ready for the launch of the Megacity Vehicle, and we look forward to even greater collaboration with the BMW ActiveE."
ActiveE leases are slated to begin next summer with expanded markets, although BMW has not released just how many vehicles will be available. The markets in the new field trial include San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Boston, and unspecified markets in Connecticut, along with the two existing markets of New York City and Los Angeles.
The ActiveE electric vehicle that will be leased next year is nearly identical to the concept shown at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, which was based on the BMW 1-Series. It uses an electric drivetrain that was developed in cooperation with SM-LiMotive, rather than sourced from an outside manufacturer like the Mini E's. The drivetrain utilizes an electric motor built into the rear axle that pumps out 125 kilowatts (170 horsepower) and 184 pound-feet of torque. This is enough power to propel the ActiveE from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, or around 1.5 seconds slower than a standard 128i with a six-speed manual.
Power for the electric motor comes from a lithium-ion battery pack co-developed with BMW by SB-LiMotive, and provides the same 100-mile range as the Bosch-Samsung-BMW pack in the concept. To optimize the range and battery life the ActiveE's battery pack uses a liquid cooling system rather than air cooling as the Mini E does.
In addition to providing its users with one of the most advanced forms of propulsion on the road, the ActiveE uses advanced connectivity technology. All of the ActiveE's climate controls can be activated via smartphone, allowing the user to pre-heat or pre-cool the car by the use of a timer.
Look for BMW's ActiveE to hit the streets in the selected markets sometime next summer, likely with a one- or two-year lease. Volumes and prices will be announced closer to the car's lease date.