With fleet trials of its upcoming BMW ActiveE set to start next year, the German automaker has offered some new and improved guidance as to the number of these 1 Series-based plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) we'll be seeing here in America. While the original -- and erroneous -- early published reports claimed the U.S. fleet would be a mere 200 units, Rich Steinberg, BMW's manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy, has now confirmed it will be more than double that amount. Steinberg didn't provide a hard number, but said it "will be at least as large as the MINI E fleet which is currently in operation," which would put the minimum figure at 450 cars. "I would hate for anyone to get the impression that we are backing away from our commitment to EV development or the Megacity Vehicle project. Let me reassure you that nothing could be further from the truth."

Steinberg also lauded "the dedication and enthusiasm that MINI E drivers have brought to this project," noting noted that having access to hands-on experience from one of the largest fleet of electric vehicles in operation today has provided numerous lessons that are being applied to ongoing development work. He pointed out that the ActiveE will benefit from a new liquid heating and cooling capability for its battery pack that will help optimize the vehicle's operating range in varying climate conditions. BMW also expects the ActiveE's expanded four-passenger capability and a seven-cubic-foot trunk to enhance its overall consumer appeal.

However, a mini-legion of current MINI E drivers has expressed serious interest in continuing the relationship with their existing vehicles. To that end, BMW announced at the Detroit Auto Show it will offer those individuals the chance to sign up for an additional one-year lease extension.

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