BMW electric 1-Series ActiveE

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Motor: synchronous electric motor (12,000 rpm max. speed)
Battery pack: 2kWh lithium-ion, 192 cells/25 modules divided between three compartments
Power: 170 PS
Torque: 250 Nm
Range: up to 100 miles
CO2 emissions: zero at tailpipe but overall impact depends on fuel burnt at power station
Top speed: 90 mph (artificially limited)
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 9 seconds
Price: trials vehicle not available for sale

BMW’s 1-Series ActiveE has more or less the same staid upright looks as any other 1-Series Coupé but beneath the plain wrapper it’s one of the most advanced cars on the road. In place of the standard car’s conventional petrol or diesel powertrain, the ActiveE has an electric motor, although it does stick with BMW’s traditional rear-wheel drive layout, and the battery modules are arranged around the car in three compartments, contributing to a near 50:50 weight distribution, another typical BMW trait.

And the ActiveE doesn’t just use any old electric motor and batteries because it previews the technology that will go into BMW’s first purpose-designed electric car, the radical i3, which will be introduced next year. The ActiveE isn’t being sold to the general public – instead a thousand or so are being used in trials, of which 160 will form part of the fleet of cars that are being used to shuttle officials and competitors around London during this year’s Olympics.

If my experience of the ActiveE is anything to go by, this year’s Olympians are in for a smooth and silent ride, and buyers of the i3, when it eventually goes on sale, can look forward to something special. The first thing you notice straight away is that the ActiveE looks and feels like a properly finished production car, with none of the rough edges you might expect on a prototype or trials vehicle. The electric drivetrain is well hidden, although it does eat into the boot space somewhat, leaving a slightly tight 200 litres for your luggage.

Out on the road, the ActiveE is outstanding, with the electric motor providing a wonderfully quiet surge of power, especially at low speeds. At 1,815kg, it’s pretty heavy, although that’s what you’d expect with all those batteries on board. The weight can be felt during cornering but not in a disconcerting way; it feels as though the ActiveE’s centre of mass is quite low and that near-50:50 balance helps too. One notable characteristic of the ActiveE is that the drivetrain provides very strong regenerative braking. In fact most of the time, you can rely simply on lifting your foot off the accelerator to slow the car, rather than operating the brake pedal. The ActiveE remains beautifully smooth at all times, suggesting that BMW is well advanced with tackling calibration and software issues, which again augurs well for the i3.

And the i3, as a car that’s designed from the ground up for electric power, will have a few advantages over the ActiveE. It will be lighter, because it will be one of the first mainstream production vehicles to make extensive use of carbon fibre, and it will get an optional range-extending internal combustion engine, eliminating one of the few drawbacks of the ActiveE, its limited range of only about 100 miles. All in all, it’s an exciting prospect.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

    Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

    Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

    UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape