BMW will stage the world premiere of the BMW ActiveE at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. Based on the current BMW 1 Series Coupé, the BMW ActiveE is the second electric test vehicle to be created by the BMW Group. The company had unveiled the Concept ActiveE at the North American International Auto Show in 2010. (Earlier post.)
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—i.e., a “gliding” mode. With previous electric vehicles, when the accelerator lifts the car automatically starts to brake.
An ECO PRO Mode to further increase the range of the BMW ActiveE 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.
At the heart of the BMW ActiveE is an electric synchronous motor which propels the car from zero to 60 mph in nine seconds, delivering 168 hp (125 kW) and maximum torque of 250 N·m (184 lb-ft). Top speed is electronically limited to 90 mph (145 km/h). 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%.
With four seats and a luggage compartment of 200 liters (7 cu. ft.), 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; the driver and all three passengers have the same head, leg and shoulder room as they would in a standard BMW 1 Series Coupé.
The BMW ActiveE 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 more than 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.