BMW Concept ActiveE (2009) first photos

Published: 17 December 2009

BMW has unveiled this rolling testbed for its electric car strategy - the new Concept ActiveE - at the 2010 Detroit motor show. It's a fully electric BMW and a hint of what's to come through the long-range visionary Project i plan which will reshape BMWs for the 21st century.

No prizes for guessing it's based on an existing BMW production car, the 1-series Coupé. But the hardware underneath is designed to percolate across the lower echelons of the BMW range, starting with some exciting new bespoke electric cars.

The ActiveE is the first fully electric BMW and follows in the treadmarks of the Mini E. Like the Mini, this battery BM will be used as a pilot test programme where it will be driven by selected private and fleet motorists.

BMW ActiveE concept: how it works

This is a rear-drive BMW with the internal combustion engine ditched in a Munich scrapheap. In its place lies a 125kW synchronous electric motor integrated into the back axle, which develops 184lb ft of twist.

BMW has teamed up with battery specialist SB LiMotive to build the lithium-ion energy packs. There are enough of them to send the weight spiralling to 1800kg.

Nearly two tonnes! So it's not that quick?

Not at all. All that electric thrust keeps performance reasonable – 62mph passes in less than nine seconds, while top speed is capped at 90mph. Range is claimed to be 100 miles, charging taking three hours at a high-current power recharging point. That nascent chicken-and-egg question that bedevils every electric car.

Although still a four-seater, the BMW ActiveE's batteries and EV gubbins nibble into the 1-series' boot space, which shrinks to 200 litres.

Don't expect a full electric 1-series on sale any time soon, but BMW claims the findings will feed into the production-bound Megacity vehicle.

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By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet