The BMW ActiveE, first unveiled at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, is BMW's second attempt at an all-electric vehicle. It follows the not-very-pleasant Mini E, of which 600 examples were tested in the U.S. and Europe during 2009 and 2010.
Ahead of the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, BMW has now released new photographs and a very detailed description of the car's features.
The ActiveE should be a considerably better vehicle, and it's worth noting that it's the first one that BMW has permitted to wear the hallowed BMW rondel.
Its lithium-ion battery pack is liquid-cooled, which offers better control of internal temperatures that should lead to more predictable range and longer battery life.
And being based on the 1-Series two-door sedan, the ActiveE also has four seats and a usable trunk, solving the two main complaints from Mini E drivers.
The BMW ActiveE is still a limited-production, lease-only test vehicle, though. Once again, customers will lease the car and provide data to BMW on how the car behaves during real-world usage. In this case, demand for the "real BMW" electric car has raised total volume to 1,000 or more.
The company's third electric car, known as the BMW MegaCity 'i' urban car, is expected to go into production late in 2013 or early in 2014. It will be the smallest BMW since the Isetta bubble cars of the 1950s.
And with a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack exactly half the size of the one in the ActiveE, plus a carbon-fiber body structure on top of an aluminum chassis to reduce weight, it will be technologically cutting-edge.
But back to the ActiveE. As well as BMW-like driving and handling characteristics, it should perform well. Its electric motor produces 125 kilowatts (170 horsepower) and the 0-to-62-mph time should be less than 9 seconds. That's hardly Tesla Roadster fast (that two-seat sports car does it in 3.9 seconds), but it's respectable.
The ActiveE promises up to 100 miles of electric range from its 32-kilowatt-hour battery pack. As noted, its range should be a more reliable number than that of the Mini E (also projected to be 100 miles), which proved highly variable depending on not only usage but also the temperature of the areas where it was driven.
If you want to read the entire, very long, very detailed press release on the features of the BMW ActiveE, it's reproduced in full on our sister site Motor Authority.
Meanwhile, we've sorted all our photos of the ActiveE into a pair of photo galleries. Can you imagine yourself behind the wheel? Enjoy.
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