The BMW ActiveE is the BMW Group’s next systematic step towards an emission-free, mass-produced electric vehicle. Within the framework of project i, the BMW Group is carrying out research and development work on the realisation of electrically powered vehicles. The main focus is on the concept of a Megacity Vehicle (MCV) that meets the demands of a sustainable mobility solution for congested urban areas. For this purpose, the BMW Group is conducting field tests on an internationally unparalleled scale for the use of purely electrically driven vehicles in everyday road traffic.
Ongoing field tests in the USA and Europe involving more than 600 MINI E cars are already providing vital knowledge about the demands on future electrically powered production vehicles. Starting in 2011 in the USA, Europe and China, a test fleet of over 1000 BMW ActiveE vehicles, produced at the Leipzig plant, will provide further valuable insights into the everyday use of the vehicle. The findings will serve to deepen the knowledge already gained on the everyday use of electric vehicles and to learn more about customer requirements. The feedback from customers testing the MINI E and the BMW ActiveE will be fed directly into series production of the MCV, which the BMW Group will be launching under a new sub-brand in 2013.
With the BMW ActiveE, the BMW Group is extending field tests on electric mobility with a clear perspective of series-production capability and is intensifying research into electric mobility in everyday road traffic. For this reason, the drive components and energy storage units that will be used in the MCV are being tested on the BMW ActiveE at a pre-production stage. The knowledge gained will be fed directly into series development of the MCV. With the BMW ActiveE, the future of individual mobility combining driving pleasure with CO2-free driving is one step closer.
In the development of groundbreaking vehicle concepts and drive technologies within the framework of the EfficientDynamics strategy, the BMW Group attaches key importance to electric mobility. With EfficientDynamics the BMW Group has for some time now been very successful in reducing fuel consumption and emission levels through new and highly-efficient engine generations, enhancement of aerodynamics, the use of innovative lightweight construction and intelligent engine management - and with better performance into the bargain. For instance, CO2 emissions of the entire vehicle fleet were reduced by around one third in the years 1995 to 2009. Thanks to EfficientDynamics, the company is now able to realise additional economy advantages through the further electrification of the drive train and hybridisation. In the medium term, the BMW Group is developing vehicle concepts for emission-free mobility in larger urban areas. In the long term, EfficientDynamics means the transition to emission-free mobility - using both battery power and regeneratively produced hydrogen.
On the way to sustainable, CO2-free mobility, the BMW Group now presents the next major milestone - the BMW ActiveE. Following the MINI E, the BMW ActiveE is the BMW Group’s second electric prototype. With a power output of 125 kW/170 bhp and maximum torque of 250 Nm, the car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 9 seconds, demonstrating the dynamic and agile characteristics of a BMW, and as is typical of electric vehicles, straight from a standstill. At the same time, newly conceived lithium-ion energy storage units facilitate a vehicle range of around 160 kilometres (100 miles) in everyday operation. Just like the MINI E, the BMW ActiveE is a conversion car, an electric vehicle based on the body shell of a vehicle with a combustion engine. The BMW ActiveE integrates all electric drive components such as energy storage unit, electric motor and power electronics in a vehicle body that was not originally intended for this purpose - and without compromising on space or comfort in the interior. Therefore, the BMW ActiveE is the BMW Group’s first electric vehicle to offer four fully-fledged seats and a 200-litre luggage compartment. This achievement by BMW developers is even more impressive in terms of the vehicle’s role during the initial testing phase. The BMW ActiveE incorporates a pilot series version of the drive train and energy storage unit from the MCV with a partly identical, partly similar geometry in a vehicle from a different concept so that these components may undergo preliminary testing. However, except for a small scoop in the bonnet and a smaller boot, the exterior and the interior design is virtually the same as that of the series production vehicle.
The BMW ActiveE is equipped with three large energy storage units that are positioned in the area where the engine block, power transmission to the rear wheels and the tank are to be found in a vehicle with a combustion engine. The drive train of the BMW ActiveE - i.e. the electric motor with gear and power electronics - directly on the rear axle in order to save space. Thanks to this measure, the BMW ActiveE corresponds to a conventional BMW 1 Series Coupe with regard to available interior space. Driver and front-seat passenger as well as passengers at the rear have the same amount of space at their disposal as in the BMW 1 Series Coupe and do not have to suffer any disadvantages at all with regard to headroom, legroom or shoulder room. This is due to the ideal positioning of the power electronics, which are located for functional reasons above the rear-axle mounted electric motor. With a volume of 200 litres, the boot offers sufficient space for bottle crates or two 46-inch golf bags.
Within the framework of the conversion of the BMW 1 Series Coupe into the BMW ActiveE, 350 newly developed body components, which are invisible to the observer, ensure that the car fulfils the same high standards with regard to crash safety, construction space and comfort as the original vehicle with a combustion engine. One of the major challenges in this respect was the intelligent integration of the energy storage units and drive components into the space made available due to the omission of combustion engine components. At the same time, it was necessary to ensure that the three large energy storage units located at the front end as well as the tunnel and tank could not be damaged or destroyed.
In order to achieve the best possible range, the BMW ActiveE is the first limited production electric vehicle in which part of the high voltage storage units is integrated into the front end of the vehicle at the cowl. There, one of the three energy storage units of the BMW ActiveE takes up around half of the construction space normally occupied by the combustion engine. Extensive measures implemented in this area guarantee optimal passenger safety in the event of a crash and also ensure that the high-voltage storage unit, ancillary components and battery fluid containers remain undamaged. Hence the BMW ActiveE meets the same high safety standards as a BMW 1 Series with combustion engine, fulfilling not only crash safety requirements stipulated by the government, but also the stringent BMW corporate demands on passive safety, some of which are even higher than those required by law.
In addition to passenger crash safety, BMW Group engineers focused in particular on the integration of the required battery capacity without having to compromise on interior space. Many of the well-thought-out solutions are to be found in the details. For example, a modified tunnel housing in the undercarriage facilitates a larger tunnel volume without reducing the amount of space available to passengers. In another area, a slightly modified centre console angle provides more construction space resulting in increased battery capacity.
Moreover, in order to increase the car’s range even further, it was necessary to keep the overall weight of the vehicle down to a minimum. The conversion concept sets certain limits for weight optimisation as the concept necessitates the incorporation of more parts, nevertheless the engineers working on the BMW ActiveE have managed to achieve the best possible reduction in weight. Throughout the entire development process, all new components were constantly optimised with regard to function and weight. Consequently, the BMW ActiveE offers the best possible solution in terms of weight reduction within the framework of a conversion concept. However, weight-optimised electric mobility can only be demonstrated in the form of a purpose-built car such as the MCV, as it is ideally adapted to the conditions and requirements of electric mobility.
The BMW ActiveE is based on the BMW compact-class model known for its outstanding agility and efficiency - the BMW 1 Series Coupe. With its powerful-looking proportions, the BMW ActiveE stands for compact agility, the convex-concave design vocabulary giving the vehicle an even more dynamic appearance. However, specific visual interior and exterior accents give indication of the exceptional character of the purely electrically powered BMW. Silver coloured, circuit-inspired graphic elements on an Electric Blue background run over the entire Alpine White car body. The intentional asymmetry of the graphic elements gives the vehicle a uniquely distinctive and agile appearance, the blue shadowing providing additional depth.
Furthermore, the flowing design of the scoop in the bonnet differentiates the exterior design of the BMW ActiveE from a conventional BMW 1 Series Coupe. It provides space for the energy storage unit located beneath it. The completely closed rear apron is a distinctive feature of the BMW ActiveE. As the ActiveE does not have a combustion engine, there is no need for tailpipes and an exhaust system. Where the tailpipes are normally located, the BMW ActiveE boasts a silver-blue accentuating trim in the completely closed rear apron that indicates that the vehicle is free of emissions. Further differentiating features are the logo “ActiveE” on the back of the car and the “eDrive” logos on the side panels as well as the high-quality chrome kidney grille.
In order to increase the vehicle’s range even further, the BMW ActiveE rides on wheels of the latest generation of tyres with optimised rolling resistance. This results in a rolling resistance that is up to twenty percent lower compared to previous series production tyres. The wheels of the BMW ActiveE are complemented with by far the lightest 16-inch alloys by BMW and boast a double V-spoke design. A more sporty 17-inch aero wheel rim with a five-spoke design is also available.
In the interior the features of a BMW 1 Series Coupe are also combined with individual details that emphasise the unique BMW ActiveE concept. Blue contrasting seams accentuate the Dakota Leather seats in exclusive Pearl Grey. Dashboard and door linings are fitted with interior trim in Alpine White, which is available for the first time, and sport a high-quality “ActiveE” appliqué that transfers the exterior graphics into the interior of the car. The shift lever plaque in black and blue complements the overall graphic concept.