BMW’s 1,000-strong fleet of ActiveE electric cars are stationed around the world, with the largest number of test cars concentrated in the U.S. 

Earlier this year, we got the chance to step behind the wheel of the very first BMW ActiveE to be delivered in the U.S., but earlier this week, we traded New Jersey for England, where the BMW ActiveE will join the official 2012 London Olympic fleet. 

Sadly, the weather was against us on the day of our drive, with torrential rain and strong winds. 

Nevertheless, our test ActiveE performed admirably, giving range predictions throughout our 40-mile drive that tied in with BMW’s own 100-mile claimed range for its electric sedan. 

Essentially a BMW 1-Series converted from gasoline to electric power, the BMW ActiveE is powered by a 32 kilowatt-hour, liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery pack, which drives a 125 kilowatt, rear-wheel drive motor. 

From a distance, the only distinguishing features that set it apart from regular BMW 1-Series model are its bulbous hood (so designed to accommodate part of the large battery pack) and an all-white body wearing slightly redesigned lower spoilers and distinctive ActiveE decals. 

As we’ve previously noted, the performance of the ActiveE is more than acceptable, taking 9 seconds to reach a speed of 62 mph. Top speed is electronically limited to 90 mph, although we couldn’t test that particular claim on public roads. 

BMW ActiveE

BMW ActiveE

We particularly liked the ActiveE’s comfortable interior and extremely fast-acting seat heaters, which kept us more than warm on such a dreary day.

Overall, we feel the BMW ActiveE is a promising car, and sets the stage nicely for BMW’s i3 and i8 Plug-in cars due by 2014. 

One point to note however: Like the MiniE which came before it, the BMW ActiveE slows down a little too quickly on accelerator lift-off, due in part to over-enthusiastic regenerative braking. 

We’ve been told by ActiveE drivers that over time, it does become possible to learn to coast the ActiveE by feathering the accelerator correctly, but during our 40-mile drive we found the simulated engine-braking still too aggressive. 

Let us know your thoughts of the ActiveE and our extended drive report video in the Comments below. 


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