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Test Drive: BMW Active E

22 October 2012

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The BMW ActiveE is a conversion of a Series 1 Coupé and has been created by BMW to better understand the electric vehicle (EV) market. Thanks to the feedback gathered from Mini E and ActiveE users, BMW will launch its first EV, the i3, in late 2013. took the opportunity to test-drive the car and here is what we think.

Unlike the Mini E, many components of the ActiveE have been developed in-house, such as the drivetrain. The car weighs 1,837kg and the motor has a maximum of 168hp. It embarks a 32kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which offers a range of about 160km.

Feedback provided by Mini E drivers has influenced the battery management of the ActiveE: they reported that the driving range of Mini E as being very much dependent on weather conditions and driving style. As a result, instead of air cooling, the use of liquid cooling to better control battery temperature range has improved reliability and performance of the ActiveE.

On the charging side, the on-board 7.7kW charger provides an empty-to-full charge in about four hours.


Acceleration from 0 to 100km/h is done in 8,5 seconds, but we noticed that BMW has reduced the torque delivered until you reach somewhere around 30 or 50km/h. However, once you are at 50km/h, the acceleration gets better and gives a real feeling of driving a powerful car.

But what will change your life, and the way you drive, is the regenerative braking. Having driven the ActiveE in Paris traffic, the car becomes a one-pedal car, as the deceleration is strong enough to stop the car without having to use the brake.

The steering response is everything you would expect from a BMW. he interior and exterior have “circuit-board graphics” in white and blue that characterise the ActiveE. In addition, the main screen displays information on the battery state-of-charge, live power consumption and regeneration.

BMW EV journey: BMW i

The BMW electric journey started in 2009, when the company began leasing an electric two-passenger version of the Mini Cooper to about 600 drivers in cities across Europe, US and Asia. The ActiveE is the second phase of this journey, which started in the first half of 2012, and is allowing the company to further refine the requirements for a line of large-volume electric cars.

BMW has timed the end of the ActiveE lease period to coincide with the introduction of the i3, which will be the first car under the new sub-brand BMW i.

BMW i stands for visionary electric cars and mobility services, inspiring design and a new understanding of premium that is strongly defined by sustainability. With BMW i the BMW Group is adopting an all-embracing approach, redefining the understanding of personal mobility with purpose-built vehicle concepts, a focus on sustainability throughout the value chain and a range of complementary mobility services.


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