• Feb 10th 2011 at 6:57PM
  • 19
BMW ActiveE – Click above for high-res image gallery

BMW has chosen to officially premiere its ActiveE at the upcoming 2011 Geneva Motor Show. As you can see, this successor to the Mini E in the automaker's electrification program doesn't stray too far from the concept version that's been showing up at various events over the past year. In fact, it appears as if only the lower fascia has been changed.

With a modest 168 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the four-seat lease-only coupé isn't going to tear up any quarter-mile strips. It takes it a full nine seconds to reach 60 miles per hour from a stop, and top speed is limited to 90 mph. It should, however, handle like a proper Bimmer. The weight has been evenly distributed 50/50 front and rear, thanks in part to the parceling out of the liquid-cooled SB LiMotive batteries into three separate packages. One lies beneath the hood, another in the legacy transmission tunnel and the third has found a home beneath the rear seats.

Like most electric vehicles with AC motors, the ActiveE has regenerative braking. Unlike the others, it has an intermediate position between going and slowing, so that when you ease of the accelerater, it enters a gliding phase. In many situations this could be more efficient than engaging regen. Hit the jump for a fancy little computer-generated introduction to the ActiveE and its drivetrain as well as the offical press release.

*UPDATE: Added a second video featuring the actual car on a track. This footage features some motor sound and also better reveals the bulge in the hood necessary to accommodate the front battery pack.

[Source: BMW]

Show full PR text
The next step towards emissions free mobility: The BMW ActiveE

The 2011 Geneva Motor Show will see the world premier of the BMW ActiveE. Based on the current BMW 1 Series Coupé, the BMW ActiveE is the second electric test vehicle to be created by the BMW Group.

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 a fully electric drivetrain. Intelligent packaging ensures that the driver and all three passengers have the same head, leg and shoulder room as they would in a standard BMW 1 Series Coupé.

At the heart of the BMW ActiveE is a powerful electric synchronous motor which propels the car from zero to 60mph in just nine seconds, delivering 168hp and maximum torque of 250Nm, from a standing start. While its top speed is electronically limited to 90mph. The BMW ActiveE maintains the dynamic driving style that is typical of a BMW, with a low centre of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution to enhance traction and power transfer of the high torque.

Replacing the engine block, transmission and fuel tank are three large energy storage units containing lithium-ion cells, developed in conjunction with SB LiMotive. These modules are protected by a steel-plate battery housing with integrated liquid cooling system, to keep the batteries at optimum operating temperature helping 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 Coupé, meeting and exceeding the levels legislated.

The BMW ActiveE is engineered so that when the driver takes his 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.

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 ECO PRO Mode can be selected whereby the drive configuration and comfort functions are modified to use less energy and facilitate a more efficient driving style. 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 dynamic looks of the traditionally powered BMW 1 Series Coupé but with circuit inspired graphics, a scoop in the bonnet and a closed rear apron, with no exhaust pipes, to distinguish it. 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 32-ampere wallbox in five hours, or overnight from a conventional domestic socket. This allows greater flexibility allowing the car to be charged wherever there is an electricity supply.

Starting in 2011, a test fleet of over 1,000 BMW ActiveE vehicles will be trialed in the USA, Europe and China and will provide valuable insights into the everyday use of the electric vehicle. The knowledge and insights 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. BMW UK will be leasing BMW ActiveEs to select customers. Further details will be announced in due course.

The BMW Group

The BMW Group is one of the most successful manufacturers of automobiles and motorcycles in the world with its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 24 production facilities in 13 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

The BMW Group achieved a global sales volume of approximately 1.29 million automobiles and over 87,000 motorcycles for the 2009 financial year. Revenues totalled euro 50.68 billion. At 31 December 2009, the company employed a global workforce of approximately 96,000 associates.

The success of the BMW Group has always been built on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy. As a result of its efforts, the BMW Group has been ranked industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the last six years.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Roadster also allows you to modulate regen (gliding phase in the middle) with the accelerator pedal, so it's not a new idea. A lot of people who used it say this is the best form of regen, although some prefer it only on the brake pedal.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So does my home conversion, I figured most vehicles with regen had the same feature.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A very nice entry from the Beemers. It is encouraging to see offerings from so many manufacturers covering the spectrum of price points. For those able to pay for BMW quality - they will not likely be disappointed.
      • 4 Years Ago
        • 4 Years Ago
        Oops! I bumbled. It should be 0.36 kWh of course.

        The Ah rating of the various cells differ but the kWh price of all cell types is the same.
        Take e. g. the 100Ah cell with a nominal voltage rating of 3.6 volts and a cell price of $107.50:
        The kWh rating is 100Ah x 3.6 V = 360 Wh or 0.36 kWh.
        1 Kwh = 1000Wh; 1000Wh : 360Wh / cell =2.8 cells / kWh.
        2.8 cells / kWh x $107.50 / cell = $301.- / kWh
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, not that high.
        The Ah rating of the various cells differ but the kWh price of all cell types is the same.
        Take e. g. the 100Ah cell with a nominal voltage rating of 3.6 volts and a cell price of $107.50:
        The kWh rating is 100Ah x 3.6 V = 360 Wh or 0.036 kWh.
        1 Kwh = 1000Wh; 1000Wh : 360Wh / cell =2.8 cells / kWh.
        2.8 cells / kWh x $107.50 / cell = $301.- / kWh
        • 4 Years Ago

        So the Thundersky batteries are about $335/kwh now?
      • 4 Years Ago
      As a Mini-E Driver and future Active E driver (I hope) I’ll weigh in with my thoughts.

      The sweet spot for EVs in any variety is going to be around 2013-2015. The reasons for this are two fold. Battery prices are dropping and wh density per kilo is increasing. Beginning with the first Tesla’s and Mini-Es in the late 2008 time frame, the battery prices were around $1000 a KW. So the Mini-E with a 35kw pack was 35k just for the battery.

      Today that cost is around $500 a KW so the same 35kw pack is now $17,500. In 2013 when all the investment and battery plants are fully online producing 100,000’s of ev batteries the cost will be at or less than $250 a kw. Or $8,750 per pack.

      That’s the sweet spot where a ev makes the same basic price point as a gas powertrain. From there the evs will dominate as prices drop and range increases. At the same time as the price drops are happening the capacity of the cells are increasing. For example the commodity cells used in the Tesla and Mini-E just 2 years ago have already improved by 35% today. This means more range for the same weight.
      Back to the BMW project I. The Mini-E phase (outside vendor selected to modify car) validated emobilty for BMW and as a result they pressed the go button on nearly a billion dollars worth of plant construction and modifications. Chief among those is the Moses lake CFRP plant in Washington and the Leipzig plant where they will assemble the Megacity car.

      The Active E phase is dramatically different, rear wheel drive with the motor incased in the rear axel, large auto format batteries, and in house development of all components. The refinement of the EV from the Mini-E to the Active E is amazing. This phase of the program will expose weaknesses in the platform and allow BMW to tweak the drivetrain for the future Megacity car.

      The Megacity (name to be announced in Geneva) is game on. An electric car from the ground up, a car weight of 1250 -1500 lbs lighter than others due to the CFRP and aluminum chassis, a price point that will hit the sweet spot in the BMW line due to lower battery cost, and three years worth of extensive R&D in real world conditions with real world drivers.
      On top of this is the driving dynamics of a BMW.

      That’s a hell of a strategy and a methodical engineering based approach to launch the future of transportation at the right time when battery prices begin to compare with traditional gas drivetrains.

      As far as GM abd Nissan and the early cars, they are going for the halo at an early expensive stage. They are tring to do to Toyota what Toyota did to them with the Prius.
      Slow and steady the right product well engineered with great market timing wins the race.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Hi David,

        First, Battery prices in the future is speculative and a best guess to be sure. Some reposrts have battery prices now at $350 KW (Tesla modle S)

        The bulk of information on prices was taken from many news stories, typical economies of scale, and from Dr. Stephen Chu and the U.S. DOE Vehicle Technologies Program.

        see page 12 of this report.


        • 4 Years Ago
        Great and informative post, Peder.
        I would like to ask though where you get the price of $250kwh from, it is much lower than anything else I have read for that time frame?
        As for Nissan and GM taking a loss to get ahead of the game, that may be true for GM, but in Nissan's case the point is to hit mass battery and component manufacturing for electric first, which is what will actually drive the cost reduction as well as technical improvement.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The video shows, in minor detail, how electric propulsion systems will change the look of cars. You no longer have this big hunk of metal that has be carried in an upright position. It no longer has to be put in font of or behind the passenger cabin.

      With the compact size of the electric drive unit front wheel or rear wheel drive or both is trivial. The battery pack be a large flat box underneath the passenger cabin and even be positioned so the the CG is at or below the axle height. A car built like this will be very stable almost impossible to roll over. Can you imagine a car with a trunk or boot at both ends?

      The reason many cars went to front wheel drive was that the engine was carried up front. Making the engine, transmission and differential one unit made for a cheaper to build and and install drive train.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nice, but just another test fleet.

      Does the idea of putting a battery in a car and making it go really need any more test fleets these days?

      Cmon BMW, you are always ahead of the game with your powertrain development. Your customers want the latest and greatest.. why the timidness?

      Looks like another CAFE/CARB play to me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The amount of testing that is needed to get things right, and right at the right price, is massive.
        After all, for ICE cars they effectively have a 'test' fleet of 800 million cars on the road right now, and things still crop up they weren't expecting! 'cough'....Toyota brake pedal... 'cough'.

        Every component of these cars will be assessed for things like reliability and wear, and the manufacturing processes are also being tested.
        Also, they are German not Californian, and have a fundamentally different approach to engineering, rather less 'moon shot', more 'tortoise shot', but they make a very well-built tortoise.
      • 4 Years Ago
      look for this car compacted in a desert near you :)
      it's still a lie but making all these lies they may just expose themselves enough to the greatness of EVs to realize where we need to go
      • 4 Years Ago
      Love the feature of coasting instead of going right to regen.

      When I hypermile in my ICE car, I often kick it into neutral for engine on coasting.

      Now most hypermilers seem to believe that you're better off either powering on or decelerating (in which case you're using no fuel at all), but to me it seems more efficient to just coast, even with the engine idling.
      • 4 Years Ago
      1,000 vehicles is a pretty serious commitment, and perhaps not far short of what Ford plan with the Focus EV.
      BMW are just being pretty German about it, and not doing the same type of hype that others do - German hype is all technical, rather than having the same type of wild sales projections and so on of others.
      Squinting at the flashing video, it looks to me as though they have not sacrificed the boot in the same way as the Ford has.
      Should be a nice car, but very pricey!
      • 4 Years Ago
      The numbers are not modest as electric ratings are not the same as ICE ratings and are at 0 RPM and under rated. The reason for the 9 sec 0-60 is more likely going to be a high weight factor, this is a poor car to convert to electric. I would expect a weight close to 3800. Let's see the final specs on wh/mile. Inefficient Dynamics, I bet.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually for cars, I think they rate it at peak hp rather than the continuous ratings typical of other types of applications.

        For example, their MINI-E was rated at 201hp.

        At this point it appears that they have done better packaging work, but it's still not a dedicated platform.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, but unlike Ford they intend to bring out a dedicated EV model on it's own platform, whilst for Ford they have said that they are going to make do an mend by having no dedicated platform but adapting a combustion engine one, and not just for this iteration of the Focus.
        Even in this BMW adaption it seems to have a working boot, unlike the Ford.
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