So, what's the news? Well, the image you see above, which comes from the spotting of 16 smashed BMW ActiveE EVs on flatbed trailers on California Route 91 near Los Angeles, CA. EV advocate Chelsea Sexton told Green Car Reports, "It's all very déjà vu, right down to [BMW's] DriveNow promotion as a don't-look-behind-the-curtain distraction – recall GM touting EV1s being donated to museums and universities? – and VINs spray painted on the sides, allowing former drivers to identify their own cars."
The next phase will see "all of the lithium-ion batteries being repurposed for Battery Second Life research projects."
BMW's take on this is that the ActiveEs were always meant to have a limited lifespan, and their time has come. As spokesman Dave Buchko tells AutoblogGreen, "The learning begun with the ActiveE will transition to the next phase with all of the lithium-ion batteries being repurposed for Battery Second Life research projects." (You can read his full statement below.) Originally, there were 700 ActiveEs leased to Electronauts (give or take). Yahoo! Autos points out that the ActiveEs were originally imported into the US as "pre-production" cars, which means they can't be sold, they can only be used for carsharing projects or re-leased. Eighty of those ActiveEs recently found a second life as vehicles in BMW's DriveNow carsharing fleet in San Francisco (bringing the total of ActiveEs in the program to 150) and "some have also been returned to Munich for additional research markets," Buchko said.
The big picture here is that no one should be sad to see these cars go. Yes, they may have had some life left in them, but the rules say their time is done and everything is being done to crush responsibly in accordance with the law. Like Plug In Cars says, we're in a completely different era now than we were when GM crushed all those EV1s a decade ago. Instead of marking the end of a plug-in vehicle program, sending the ActiveEs away to be recycled is a symbol of the evolution and growth of BMW's i Project. As further proof, despite a few minor hiccups, the first BMW i3 runabouts with range extenders are being delivered in the US this week.
BMW has always been clear that the ActiveEs were prototype vehicles and that the program would have a limited timeframe, which is now drawing to a close. Our time with the ActiveE and our Electronauts has been a great learning experience which has prepared us well for the arrival of the BMW i3 electric vehicle which is now in US showrooms at authorized BMW i Centers. As enthusiasts, we understand and appreciate the emotional connection that individuals can make with their cars. The enthusiasm that the Electronauts brought to the BMW ActiveE test program was truly remarkable.
The learning begun with the ActiveE will transition to the next phase with all of the lithium-ion batteries being repurposed for Battery Second Life research projects.
As prototypes, the BMW ActiveEs may not be resold. Based on increasing demand, the most well cared for cars have been deployed to bolster the fleet of Drive Now, BMW's car sharing service in the San Francisco Bay Area, for a limited period. The total number of BMW ActiveEs in the Drive Now Fleet totals 150. Some have also been returned to Munich for additional research markets.
Legal requirements make it impossible to keep these cars on the road in the US indefinitely. Recycling of the vehicles locally is the most sustainably responsible means of handling the cars that are being taken out of service.