The 2011 Geneva Motor Show will see the world premier of the BMW ActiveE. Based on the current BMW 1 Series Coupé, the ActiveE is the second electric test vehicle to be created by the BMW Group. With four seats and a large trunk, the ActiveE is the first electric vehicle from the BMW Group to combine the space and comfort of a traditional vehicle with a fully electric drivetrain – the previous Mini E sacrificed rear passenger and trunk space to house its battery pack. However, better packaging means 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 ActiveE is a powerful electric synchronous motor which propels the car from 0-60mph in just nine seconds, delivering 168hp and maximum torque of 184 lb-ft. While its top speed is electronically limited to 90mph.
The BMW ActiveE maintains the dynamic driving style of a typical BMW, with a low center of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution to enhance traction and power transfer. Replacing the engine block, transmission and fuel tank are three energy storage units containing lithium-ion cells, developed in conjunction with SB LiMotive. These modules are protected by a steel-plate housing with a liquid cooling system to keep the batteries at optimum operating temperatures, thereby helping to increase the range.
The housings also ensure the BMW ActiveE meets the same safety standards as the BMW 1 Series Coupé.
The 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 battery, while at the same time braking torque is created, slowing the vehicle. This energy recuperation can increase the range by up to 20 per cent. For the first time in a BMW electric vehicle, the 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, an 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 pedal travel. The BMW ActiveE retains the appear
ance of the BMW 1 Series Coupé but with circuit-inspired graphics, a scoop in the hood 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, so can be charged using 32-amp 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 1000 ActiveE vehicles will be tested in the USA, Europe and China. It will provide valuable insights into the everyday use of electric vehicles.
Like the Mini E, knowledge and insight gained from the field trials of the ActiveE will be fed back for the future development of BMW’s Megacity Vehicle, due to go into production in 2013.