BMW Concept ActiveE – Click above for high-res image gallery
Six months into its Mini E
field test program, BMW is getting ready for phase two of its electric vehicle
development. At the Detroit Auto Show
next month, the Bavarian automaker will introduce its Concept ActiveE which brings electric drive to the Roundel. This time, instead of the diminutive Mini, these new teaser images suggest that a 1 Series
coupe is set to go the plug-in route.
With the Mini E, BMW rushed to get the cars out into the field, recruiting AC Propulsion to produce the powertrains and battery packs comprised of laptop cells – a setup not unlike the Tesla Roadster
. This time around, the car is much closer to what might be expected of a mass-produced electric car
. BMW plans to build another fleet of EVs based on this concept, and once again, it will again put cars into the hands of ordinary drivers and fleets for more field testing. Read on after the jump
for more details and the official press release.
Phase two of BMW's Project I is a much more fully integrated vehicle than the electric Mini, with significantly fewer compromises. The ActiveE retains the 1's full four-seat configuration (such as it is) of the 1 by packaging a battery specifically designed for automotive applications. Earlier this year, BMW announced that it would work with SB LiMotive on lithium ion batteries for its future EVs, and the ActiveE is the first product of that partnership. SB LiMotive is the battery joint venture between Bosch and Samsung.
Like BMW's recent EfficientDynamics concept
that debuted at Frankfurt (not to mention the Chevrolet Volt
and the original EV1), most of the battery pack is located down the center tunnel of the car and under the rear seat where the fuel tank normally sits. A portion of the battery also resides in the lower part of the engine compartment.
The concept's 170-horsepower synchronous electric motor is integrated into the rear axle with the power electronics sitting right on top of the motor. The trunk volume of the EV shrinks from the 13.1 cubic feet of the standard 1 Series coupe to just seven cubic feet. Unfortunately, while the cargo volume has shrunk, the car's mass has not. In spite of using the latest lithium ion batteries and claimed lightweight construction, the ActiveE has grown from the 3,373 pounds of the 135i coupe to a rather porky 3,900 pounds. The 1 series is not a big car and weighing in at nearly two tons is not a good sign.
The battery pack is liquid cooled to help maintain it at its optimum temperature for better durability. BMW has not specified the size of the battery pack, but the company seems to have learned a bit about range estimates after the experience of the Mini E. This time, BMW is stating that the ActiveE gets about 150 miles of driving range on the FTP72 cycle (the sequence used for the EPA
city test). More importantly, they estimate that the ActiveE's real world range should be about 100 miles.
The low and central battery location allows the ActiveE to retain a 50/50 front-to-rearrear weight distribution. As a result, the ActiveE should handle reasonably well, and acceleration to 60 mph is estimated at about 8.5 seconds. With a European 50A 230/240V circuit, the ActiveE should charge in about three hours. A single-phase 32A/220V American circuit will take about four-and-a-half hours.
BMW has also incorporated some of the same sort of remote management capabilities that we will be seeing in the Volt and Nissan Leaf
to help reduce electrical energy use. Drivers can use a mobile phone to check the battery's state of charge. While communicating with the car, they can also activate the climate control system to pre-heat or pre-cool the car while it's still plugged in.
BMW says it is planning on a test fleet based on the concept that should be even larger than the 600 unit Mini E run. At this point, the automaker hasn't said when the cars will be available or how much they would cost. We hope to get more information when the car is unveiled at in darkest Cobo Hall next month.