Concept-BMW 1 Series ActiveE Preview

Jeff Youngs | Feb 24, 2012
  • Second-generation electric vehicle technology from BMW
  • Built on the 1 Series platform
  • Very unique color, decals and badging
  • No compromise on interior space-seats 4 passengers
  • Electric motor develops 170 horsepower
  • Accelerates to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds, according to BMW
  • Full household charge in about 4.5 hours
  • Range of about 100 miles per charge
  • Leasing program to be announced in January, 2010


BMW 1 Series ActiveEThe German automaker BMW is not new to electric vehicles. In mid-2009, BMW began a public test program with the -an all-electric vehicle based on its compact Mini Cooper platform. The car was offered to more than 500 consumers in the Los Angeles and New York areas on a special one-year lease program. The unique test was designed so the automaker could do real-world analysis of its technology.

The all-new Concept ActiveE, built on the BMW 1 Series platform, is a follow-up to that original (and ongoing) program. Using more advanced technology, and on a larger vehicle platform, the Concept ActiveE will be made available to the public on another special lease program, similar to the Mini E. In the automaker's own words, the Concept ActiveE is ".yet another milestone along the way to achieving CO2-free mobility."

For More Information

BMW 1 Series ActiveE Concept


It is immediately apparent that the Concept ActiveE is built on the BMW 1 Series platform. While most body panels come directly from the gasoline-powered variants, closer examination reveals the rear valance is completely closed-there is no need for exhaust pipes on an electric car. The entire vehicle wears prominent blue graphics depicting printed circuits contrasting against its standard Liquid White metallic paint. The filler cap, covering the charging connection, is translucent. Even the roof fin and trademark kidney grille are blue. Special light-alloy wheels, with a unique aerodynamic design, are standard. Lettering on the doors and side panels clearly identify the Concept ActiveE's mission, for those who missed the message.

Inside the cabin, special leather upholstery features embossed graphics and unique blue stitching. The instrument panel and door trim panels have accent strips in Liquid White paint, while the d_cor strip on the instrument panel is finished with a 3-dimensional rear-lit ActiveE graphic. The illuminated "blue" theme continues with the start/stop button and dash lighting. The tachometer has been replaced by a battery capacity display, and there is a gauge to show how much current is being drawn.

With the battery pack located low and to the rear of the vehicle (occupying the area typically used by the rear differential), BMW says the innovative all-electric powerplant has not impacted passenger space within the cabin. Understandably, the trunk area (most of the engine electronics are positioned above the rear axle) has been impacted slightly. However, according to BMW, the trunk capacity of the Concept ActiveE-complete with a clear Plexiglas screen to provide a view of the electronics-still exceeds that of the 1 Series convertible.
BMW 1 Series ActiveE Concept


The rear axle of the Concept ActiveE houses a synchronous electric motor rated at 170 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The electric drive system pulls its power from an advanced liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack developed by BMW and its partner SB LiMotive especially for the Concept ActiveE. The rear-wheel-drive Concept ActiveE is able to accelerate to 60 mph in approximately 8.5 seconds with a maximum speed of about 90 mph, according to BMW. The Concept ActiveE has a range of about 100 miles under normal driving conditions. In North America, using a high-current residential charging box, the Concept ActiveE may be completely recharged in about 4.5 hours, BMW says.

Like many all-electric vehicles, the Concept ActiveE is able to regenerate electricity under braking. When the driver lifts a foot off the accelerator, the electric motor immediately performs the function of generating power by converting kinetic energy into electricity that is then sent back to the battery for storage. According to BMW, this type of regenerative braking will improve the Concept ActiveE's range by nearly 20 percent under normal driving conditions.


The climate control system developed for the Concept ActiveE features several innovative technologies designed to reduce electrical load on the vehicle while improving passenger comfort. The driver is able to heat or cool the vehicle's interior before a trip by using the optional auxiliary heating or air conditioning system. The system is utilized when the Concept ActiveE is connected to a charging station and the battery is at full capacity. By utilizing this type of hookup (think of it like "shore power" on a boat), the vehicle isn't required to draw power from its own batteries while running the energy-hungry climate control system. The climate system on the Concept ActiveE may also be activated via mobile phone. System settings allow the driver to set automatic timers to heat or cool the vehicle at specific times (e.g., early in the morning or when leaving work), and check on the status of the energy storage system in the Concept ActiveE remotely.

Explore new car previews
2022 Lexus NX Preview
2022 Lexus NX Preview
Serving the role of the compact luxury crossover in the lineup, the redesigned 2022 Lexus NX is vital to Toyota’s luxury brand. Aside from the larger RX, the NX is Lexus’s best-selling vehicle, and it must remain so.
Read the full review
2022 Audi A3 Sedan Preview
2022 Audi A3 Sedan Preview
Since its introduction, the Audi A3 has made the favorites list of many an enthusiast driver, and the all-new 2022 Audi A3 sedan arriving later this year is virtually certain to continue in that tradition.
Read the full review
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Preview
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Preview
Honda is preparing to reveal its redesigned 2022 Civic hatchback and offers the photo here (and not much more) as an appetizer to the main event.
Read the full review
Read all articles
Scroll to the top
New Car Preview
2022 Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer Preview
Most Dependable
2019 Vehicle Dependability: Most Dependable Luxury Cars Under $45,000
Most Popular
10 Most Popular Compact SUVs and Crossovers
New Model Update
New for 2019: Alfa Romeo
New Car Preview
2022 BMW X3 Preview
More related