As BMW bring to an end the first round of BMW Mini E lease schemes in the U.K, drivers in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Boston and Connecticut can look forward to signing up to help BMW test its ActiveE, two years before its MegaCity EV hits the market. 

Based on a 2010 BMW 1-series chassis, the 450 ActiveE will feature a range of 100 miles, room for four passengers and the same sporty performance the BMW Mini E demonstrated. 

But unlike the Mini E, the BMW ActiveE will keep the BMW tradition of rear-wheel drive cars alive with a rear-mounted motor capable of producing 125 kilowatts (170 horsepower).  

BMW Concept Active E

BMW Concept Active E

Acceleration from 0-60 is claimed to take place in around 8.5 seconds, putting the all-electric version of this 1-series BMW a little ahead its smaller-engined gasoline-powered siblings. Top speed is a little lower though, at an electronically-limited 90 mph. 

BMW has learnt from previous experience with the Mini E, putting a thermally-regulated lithium ion battery pack developed in conjunction with SB LiMotive.  This should help alleviate some of the issues the early BMW Mini E test fleet had of poor performance in cold Northeastern winters. 

The car boasts a 7 cubic feet of trunk estate and thankfully, a rear seat. Unlike the Mini E’s battery pack, which robbed the car of it’s rear seats and trunk space, the ActiveE’s battery pack is more carefully placed allowing for a much more conventional interior.

Creature comforts in the form of pre-heating and pre-cooling, something we’ve been used to hearing about on the 2011 Nissan Leaf, are also present. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the polished press release and impressive-sounding vehicle would herald the first of the commercially available electric car from BMW, but don’t be fooled. 

The ActiveE isn’t a production vehicle.

BMW Concept Active E

BMW Concept Active E

BMW have taken great pains to reiterate that the ActiveE scheme is the second leg in BMW’s electric vehicle test fleet. As a consequence, vehicles will be leased rather than offered for purchase. 

In other words, customers will not be able to keep their ActiveE test vehicles. Just like many electric ‘test vehicles’ before them, each and every ActiveE will be returned to BMW at the end of the scheme. 

Although it’s a shame to not see a consumer-ready EV from BMW we are impressed with the apparent diligence the luxury marque is putting into its EV fleet. 

If you live in one of the test areas and want to sign up, BMW are keen to hear from you. Otherwise, be rest assured that when BMW finally release the 2013 MegaCity it should be one tried-and-tested example of BMW’s engineering excellence.