BMW AG's new ActiveE electric car will be leased to a limited number of customers next year to prepare for launching a plug-in vehicle in about four years, says Klaus Draeger, the BMW board member who heads R&D. Starting in 2011, the ActiveE will be leased in the US and Europe.
The trial will be handled the same way that the trial for the Mini E electric vehicle was conducted in the US. The number of cars to participate in the test was not disclosed.
Jim O'Donnell, CEO of BMW of North America, said that the yearlong Mini E trial, involving 450 cars in New York, New Jersey and California, was to end in early 2010 but has been extended indefinitely. Some lessees have told BMW they would like to hold onto their cars.
Based on the 1-Series Coupe, the four-seat ActiveE uses a new-generation lithium ion battery. It enables the car to go 100 miles on a full charge of the 170-hp electric motor. The ActiveE is a precursor to BMW's first production plug-in electric, which is set to arrive in the first half of this decade.
He asserts that BMW is including the second electric car in a trial program to get more customer input. The company had been worried that the 100-mile range wasn't enough but Draeger soon learned from the Mini E trial that customers are satisfied with it.