What is it? The ActiveE is BMW’s second all-electric vehicle, following the 2008-2009 Mini E. The ActiveE is based on the BMW 1 Series coupe, with 33-kwh lithium-ion batteries, which the company says are good for 100 miles before needing a recharge. Unlike the Mini E, the ActiveE retains its back seat. The 33 kwh lithium-ion batteries are stored under the floor and in the trunk. BMW claims that the 33 kw electric motor will launch the ActiveE to 60 mph in under 9 seconds. Perhaps the most notable feature of the ActiveE is the lease price: $499 a month for two years, with $2,500 down. That’s a lot cheaper than the $800-a-month lease BMW offered for one year on the Mini E.
What’s new or notable? The ActiveE has a higher output 7-kw charger than other electric cars, giving its big batteries a recharge time of 3-5 hours. BMW is also opting for similar technology as on the Chevrolet Volt and other electric cars in having liquid cooled and preheated batteries, and software that will allow drivers to preheat or pre-cool the cabin while the car is still plugged in. The ActiveE will use the new standard SAE J1772 plug, unlike the Mini E, which had its own unique plug.
CR’s take: Although the BMW ActiveE sounds like a bargain compared with the Mini, it’s still $150 a month more than the Nissan Leaf electric car, which has the same range. And it lacks the practical four-door hatchback body style of the Leaf.
When will it be available? Late 2011