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BMW Is Plugged In – But Not Charged Up – About Battery Cars

Launches new EV car sharing program, but predicts marginal battery car sales.

by on Aug.22, 2012

San Franciscans can now rent a BMW ActiveE using a smartphone app.

BMW is plugging into the nascent electric vehicle market.  But that doesn’t mean it’s all that charged up about the technology’s opportunities, especially in the U.S., near-term.

Perhaps the best opportunity to create a market, the maker appears to be betting, is through non-traditional marketing efforts, such as the new DriveNow car-sharing service it has partnered with in San Francisco.

Without significant new incentives, senior BMW executives caution, direct EV sales to consumers will likely remain little more than an asterisk on the sales charts.

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With little fanfare, BMW quietly began letting DriveNow begin renting out its new 3-Series-based ActiveE battery-electric vehicle in late June.  At a growing number of automated locations in the city – with a center coming at San Francisco International Airport – motorists can pick up an ActiveE and use it for as little as a half hour or keep it for several days.


BMW Sets $499/month Price Tag for ActiveE

Maker also launching new 4-cylinder version of Z4 roadster, while planning two new “green” dealerships for Manhattan.

by on Apr.18, 2011

BMW enters the battery-car market with the ActiveE.

BMW customers can finally plug into the emerging world of battery car technology.  The maker has formally announced pricing for its first electric vehicle, the ActiveE, while also making several other “green” announcements in advance of this week’s New York Auto Show.

The limited-edition BMW ActiveE will give the maker the chance to test both demand for battery cars – and the electric vehicle technology it is now developing – in preparation for the launch of its new BMWi unit, which will focus specifically on alternative propulsion.

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In all, just 700 ActiveE sedans will be brought over to the U.S., and interested customers will be able to start signing up late this coming summer.  They’ll be available for a 24-month lease only, at $499 a month, with a $2,250 down-payment.

The monthly figure is several $100 more than a new Nissan Leaf, but a fraction of the anticipated $1,200 a month that the  Volvo C30 Electric, which reviewed recently – Click Here for more on the C30 battery carwill likely go for.


BMW To Launch U.S. Trial Of ActiveE Battery-Car

Maker targeting key coastal markets.

by on Sep.23, 2010

BMW will begin field testing its ActiveE battery-car vehicle in summer 2011 in key U.S. markets.

BMW’s ActiveE Concept – first unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show last January – will take a giant step closer to production next summer, the automaker plans to announce today.

The Bavarian marque will use the Opportunity Green conference, in Los Angeles, to outline an ambitious field test of the ActiveE, focusing on key markets on the East and West Coasts.  The maker anticipates using the project as a prelude for the launch of its battery-powered Megacity Vehicle in 2013.

The sprawling Los Angeles to San Diego metroplex will play a “key” role, according to BMW officials, along with the Greater New York region.  But the maker will also field some of the battery cars in San Francisco and Sacramento, out west, and in Boston.

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“We’re looking forward to working with more drivers in more markets to build our base of experience,” explains Rich Steinberg, who oversees electric vehicle operations for BMW of North America. The ActiveE program, he notes, will run concurrently with a field test of the Mini E, a battery-based microcar from BMW’s British subsidiary.


2010 BMW Electric ActiveE Concept

Set for a North American International Auto Show debut.

by on Dec.31, 2009

A claimed 100 mile range to empty.

Conventional wisdom suggests that luxury automakers will have an especially tough time meeting ever-stricter emissions and fuel economy regulations.  BMW has made a history of bucking conventional wisdom, and if the ActiveE concept is any indication, it hopes to do that again.

Set to debut at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit, this coming month, the  all-electric concept is based on the 1-Series Coupe that also will also take its bows at the Detroit Auto Show.   Following the strategy of the battery-powered Mini E, the ActiveE is the second model in Project-i, which was meant to explore the possibilities for bringing a zero-emissions vehicle to market before 2015.


Where the Mini E is a front-wheel-drive two-seater — the batteries occupying the place where conventional rear seats would go — the electric BMW offers space for four adults and even has a 7 cubic foot. truck, barely big enough for two golf bags. With a weight reduction similar to that of the standard Coupe, the EV should not only achieve emissions-free driving (if you neglect how the electricity is generated), but, the maker claims, deliver the sort of driver-oriented road manners BMW aficionados worship.  (more…)