BMW’s pursuit of pure-electric vehicles has moved ahead with the announcement of the 1 Series Coupe-based ActiveE for field tests as part of its project i. It follows the Mini E and is being shown at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.
The Concept ActiveE will be tested for everyday use as a car that gives the type of driving experience that a conventional ICE (internal combustion engine) BMW could be expected to provide. It has rear-wheel-drive, strong acceleration, and the capability of achieving more than just urban mobility.
The vehicle concept also comprises an extended range of functions with a high level of practical relevance, stressed the company. For instance, the arrangement of the drive components makes it possible to provide four full-size seats and a 200-L (7.1 ft³) trunk volume.
As with many OEMs, BMW is spreading its drivetrain portfolio wider and is developing electric drive (or "electromobility") alongside its EfficientDynamics program, the latter applied to its IC engines. Electric drive is seen by the company as providing an additional option for a lasting form of individual mobility alongside the ongoing optimization of all models with an IC engine; the market launch of ActiveHybrid technology in serial production vehicles; and the Hydrogen 7 program as evidence of the suitability of hydrogen drive for everyday use.
With regard to the Concept ActiveE, of particular significance is that it is powered by a new synchronous electric motor specially developed for the car. Maximum output is 127 kW and maximum torque 250 N·m (184 lb·ft).
A lithium-ion battery pack has also been developed jointly by BMW and SB LiMotive specifically for the Concept ActiveE. It has a new stable temperature regulation function to optimize the battery pack’s performance.
Keeping weight down and maximizing packaging is always a challenge for electric car designers. BMW says that the concept uses “weight-reduced construction” and package-optimized arrangement of all components. The electric motor is completely integrated in the rear axle with the power electronics positioned above it. The battery pack uses space that would be occupied by a conventional car’s drivetrain and fuel tank.
Concept ActiveE has a mass of around 1800 kg (DIN unladen weight) or 3970 lb, has a low center of gravity, and an axle load distribution that is typical of a BMW and is said to provide the dynamic driving properties and agile handling in the style of the BMW 1 Series.
The company has issued what it terms “predicted driving performance figures” that include acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 9 s and a electronically limited maximum speed of about 145 km/h (90 mph).
Real-world range is expected to be similar to that of the Mini E—some 160 km (100 mi) on a single charge, depending on conditions; the FTP72 cycle range is calculated to be 240 km (150 mi) in simulation.
The lithium-ion battery pack uses flexible charging. It can be recharged via a conventional power outlet at public charging stations or at a special wall box. On the European grid, the battery pack can be fully charged at a high-current power outlet (50 A) in three hours. In North America, using a high-current (32-A continuous) residential wall box, charge time is about 4.5 h.
The drive components used in the Concept ActiveE have been developed as part of project i. BMW explained that the objectives on which this is based are derived from the requirements for the serial production development of a Megacity Vehicle.
In the Concept ActiveE, new BMW ConnectedDrive services are used that have been designed exclusively for use in an electric vehicle including specific remote functions that facilitate the use of a mobile phone to check the charge status of the battery, search for public charging stations, and activate the vehicle’s auxiliary heating and air conditioning functions.
The car’s instrument panel and the central display have been adapted to include items specific to electric drive. The use of innovative remote functions as part of BMW ConnectedDrive includes a smartphone connection fully linked into the vehicle infotainment system.