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.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

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

    Database Administrator

    £300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

    Science Teacher

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

    Deputy Head of Science

    £22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

    Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

    £28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London