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BMW to give world debut to ActiveE

14 Feb 2011

BMW ActiveE (2)

BMW will give a world debut to its ActiveE at the Geneva Motor Show - the second electric test vehicle to be developed by the BMW Group following on from the MINI E. Based on the 1 Series Coupe, the ActiveE will be leased to a number of customers in the UK in a trial to gain insights into the everyday use of an electric vehicle.

With four seats and a luggage compartment of 200 litres, the BMW ActiveE is the first electric vehicle from the BMW Group to combine the space and comfort of a traditionally powered BMW with fully electric power. So that the driver and all three passengers have the same head, leg and shoulder room as they would in a standard BMW 1 Series Coupe.

It's powered by an electric synchronous motor which develops 168bhp and maximum torque of 250Nm, giving it a 0-60mph acceleration time of 9.0 seconds. The top speed is electronically limited to 90mph. BMW says the ActiveE will maintain the dynamic driving style that is typical of a BMW, with a low centre of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution.

Replacing the engine block, transmission and fuel tank are three large energy storage units containing lithium-ion cells. These are protected by a steel-plate battery housing with an integrated liquid cooling system, to keep the batteries at an optimum operating temperature which helps to increase the range. These housings also help to ensure that the BMW ActiveE meets the same stringent safety standards as the BMW 1 Series Coupe.

The BMW ActiveE is engineered so that when the driver takes their foot off the accelerator pedal the motor becomes a generator and feeds the electricity created from kinetic energy back into the vehicle battery, while at the same time braking torque is created, slowing the vehicle down. This recuperation of energy can increase the range by up to 20 per cent.

BMW ActiveE (3)

For the first time in a BMW Group electric vehicle the BMW ActiveE features an ‘intermediate position' for the accelerator pedal that results in the car's own kinetic energy being used to move forward, without consuming energy from the batteries. In essence it is a ‘gliding' mode. With previous electric vehicles when the accelerator lifts the car automatically starts to brake. To further increase the range of the BMW ActiveE an 'Eco Pro' mode can be selected where the onboard systems are modified to use less energy. In 'Eco Pro' mode the heating and air conditioning system are programmed to use less energy and the accelerator demands less power with the same travel.

The BMW ActiveE retains the looks of the traditionally powered BMW 1 Series Coupe but with circuit inspired graphics, a scoop in the bonnet and a closed rear apron, with no exhaust pipes. Inside Pearl Grey Dakota leather seats with Blue contrasting seams, along with a revised instrument cluster are the main indicators of the electric drivetrain. Instead of the traditional fuel gauge and rev counters the dials show the level of charge left in the battery and the amount of energy being used and recuperated.

The BMW ActiveE is not dependent on a specific energy source and so can be charged using a 32-ampere wallbox in five hours, or overnight from a conventional domestic socket.

Starting in 2011, a test fleet of more than 1,000 BMW ActiveE vehicles will be trialled in the USA, Europe and China. The knowledge gained from the field trials of the BMW ActiveE will be fed back for the future development of the Megacity Vehicle, due to go into production in 2013.

Full coverage of the Geneva Motor Show 2011  


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