Classic BMW Coupe Becomes 800-Horsepower Electric Car

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BMW's ActiveE coupe is a great little electric car. Even more so when it's working.

It looks pretty good, there's decent performance on offer, and drivers enjoy BMW handling and BMW quality without having to feed a drop of gas into it.

An electrified 1-Series coupe will never be quite as cool as Mike Pethel's electric BMW coupe, though.

Based on a 1970 BMW 3.0 CS coupe, Mike's car is rather more potent than BMW's own electric effort. And on style, the neat 1-Series simply can't compete with the gorgeous classic's lines.

When we say potent, we mean it. First, as you'll see in the video, the battery is massive. 2,400 lithium-ion cells are connected together in three custom boxes, producing one megawatt of energy. That, says Marketplace, is enough to run 750 homes.

It's also enough to power a BMW with its internal combustion innards replaced with a pair of direct current electric motors, developing 800-horsepower.

Of course, even with an enormous battery occupying your rear seats, 800 horses is going to drain it pretty quickly--around 50 miles is the best you'd see.

But that 50 miles would probably be quite fun. His commute is only five miles, so the 50-mile range isn't a problem. And judging by the burnout at the end of the video above, we're guessing Mike loves the smell of tire smoke, too.

Despite being new to conversions, he actually built the car himself, and even designed the motors. He says it's primitive, but it works. He gets a kick from it--not just from driving it, but knowing what it stands for as an electric car.

"I mean, if I just had a really loud car, it might be exciting to some motorhead. But when you have an electric green, clean, quiet car, everybody likes it."

Can't argue with that. So how about that 800-horsepower ActiveE, BMW?


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Comments (7)
  1. I question some of the numbers in this post?

    A MegaWatt, 1MW (1000 kW) is the energy equivalent of ~30 gallons of petro! (1 gal = 33.7 kW) A range of 50 miles implies a 1.67 MPG. Trying to wrap my brain around how 800 HP (600 kW) of motor(s) can suck enough amperage to smoke a megawatt in just 50 miles without evaporating the motors! A true HOT rod.

    A megawatt is enough energy to drive a Leaf, or Tesla (S, or Roadster) from New York, NY to Los Angles, CA (~2800 mi @ ~3.x kW/mi)

  2. Pethel had the motors redesigned in order to sustain this amount of wattage. I interviewed Alex Chadwick last weekend before the launch of the story and we had fun going over the details. Finally the White Zombie has a challenger.

  3. Not to be excessively pedantic, but a joule is a unit of energy, a watt is a unit of instantaneous power, a unit of capacity (how one measures the size of battery packs) would be in watt-seconds / minutes / hours.

    If they mean that this gentleman's custom battery pack stores a MW-hr of energy, that's quite a lot, no doubt about it. A Tesla battery pack (ESS) stores 53 kW-hrs of energy and contains ~6800 16850 form-factor batteries. To be honest, I sincerely doubt that this gentleman's 2400 batteries (of undescribed form-factor) can store 20X the energy in about 1/2 the volume (looking at the video).

  4. That's why he used phosphate according to my interview. I'm also scratching my head.

  5. Antony, it that 1 million watts of POWER?
    or 1 million watt hours of ENERGY??
    Believe I know the answer but we'll let you mull it over.

  6. +1 for an 800hp ActiveE :-)

  7. Having watched the video now, it shows, at about 1:35 that, whilst the energy density of gasoline is so much higher, the difference between the two fuel sources is how easily you can convert the energy into massive amounts of force. To do that same rolling burnout without clutch dumping (a.k.a cheating) would require a massive capacity engine far beyond the scope of a home-brew project.

    EV's are on a great trajectory.

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