Detroit 2010: BMW Concept ActiveE
By Chris Haak
Taking the 500-car Mini E test program to the next logical step, BMW’s 1 Series-based Concept ActiveE, which made its world premiere in Detroit yesterday, will undergo a similar consumer-driven field test over the next several months.
Unlike the Mini E, which lost its back seat in the conversion from a gasoline-fueled subcompact car to an electric-powered test bed, the Concept ActiveE will boast four seats with about 7 cubic feet of trunk space. The car is expected to accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in about 8.9 seconds, a top speed of about 90 miles per hour, and a real-world range of about 100 miles.
BMW has bestowed the Concept ActiveE with a Toyota-like driver-selectable Eco mode to extend the vehicle’s range. It will also have the capability of receiving a full charge in about five hours using a standard residential-grade high-amperage power supply. Some Mini E lessees were frustrated by difficulties in installing the apporopriate charging hardware in their homes, only to find out that on standard 110-volt household current, the Mini E took more than 24 hours to charge, rendering the car theoretically useless for a full day’s worth of driving, since folks usually need their car sooner than 24 hours after their last trip.
The Concept ActiveE’s electric motor produces 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Power is stored in a specially-developed lithium-ion battery pack with a stable temperature regulation function, since lithium-ion batteries are somewhat fickle about being the optimal temperature. BMW predicts that the Concept ActiveE will accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in less than 9 seconds. Hardly neck-snapping acceleration, but at least the company predicts that with the car’s 3900-pound curb weight, the car will handle similar to what is expected from the standard 1 Series coupe.
Though the Concept ActiveE surely has regenerative braking (almost a must-have in an electric vehicle), I found it telling that the press release made no mention of it. Perhaps BMW is sensitive to the criticism that was heaped on the Mini E by myself and others about its extremely aggressive regeneration, even when the brake pedal wasn’t being touched. Regen was surely a major focus of the Mini E’s driving range, but I’m guessing that a software update will eventually correct that issue in the Mini E, and that BMW probably dialed it back big-time in the Concept ActiveE. We won’t know for sure until someone outside of BMW actually gets the drive the car, though.
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