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.
Virtually identical to the ActiveE Concept, the model going into the field test is based on the conventionally-powered BMW 1-Series Coupe. It has been outfitted with a lithium-ion battery pack powering an electric motor, rather than the stock gasoline or diesel driveline. The battery drive system was developed by BMW in cooperation with SB-LiMotive.
The partners say they expect a typical range of about 100 miles per charge – depending upon conditions. As with all battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, range can be reduced sharply by aggressive driving and by the use of a vehicle’s electric heating system.
To reduce the drain on the battery, a motorist will be able to pre-program the ActiveE to begin heating up or cooling down while the vehicle is still connected to its charger. Apps for use on various smartphones also will be able to control pre-conditioning of the climate control, and to set charging times to take advantage of possibly lower off-peak electric rates.
There are some sacrifices due to the space needs for the battery pack. Cargo space has been cut to 7 cubic feet, for example. But there will still be room for 4 passengers, BMW notes.
BMW plans to launch its first true production battery car, under the Megacity Vehicle program, in 2013.