Making its world debut at the North American International Auto Show, the BMW Concept ActiveE is the automaker's latest foray into the pure electric transport realm. Based on the current 1 Series coupe, BMW plans to build and lease a series of these vehicles to field test in both private and fleet situations. Developed in house by BMW's "project i" organization, the Concept ActiveE is a followup to the Mini E, but drives its rear wheels via a unique zero-emission powertrain and offers a more practical four-passenger seating capacity with a modest 7.0 cu ft of trunk space.

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Powering the ActiveE is an all-new compact, lightweight electric motor that's integrated into the rear axle in a manner that optimizes packaging. BMW also says it provides the dynamic character of a typical internal combustion engine. Producing 170 peak horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, it can send the ActiveE from 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds and take it to an electronically limited top speed of 90 mph. Power comes from an equally new strain of liquid-cooled Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery developed in concert with Bosch and Samsung's SB LiMotive group that give the Concept ActiveE a real-world range of 100-150 miles per charge. Largely occupying the areas where a driveshaft and fuel tank would normally be, this multi-module pack also helps lower the center of gravity in the 3,900-pound coupe while helping maintain a 50/50 weight balance.

Like most of its peers, the ActiveE is designed to be recharged from a number of different private and public sources, including a conventional wall outlet. In Euro trim using a 50-amp/230-240V outlet, these super-efficient batteries can be fully charged in three hours while a 32-amp/220V U.S. circuit will need about 4.5 hours to complete the job. In addition to integrating regenerative braking on the rear wheels which can help extend on-the-fly battery range by up to 20 percent, the ActiveE's sophisticated controller allows the electric climate control systems to remotely activate by mobile phone using BMW's ConnectedDrive package. It also can provide the driver with full real-time status updates on all critical systems, no matter where they may be located in relation to the vehicle.

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Finished in Liquid White metallic and carrying distinctive graphics and special 18-inch aerodynamically optimized alloy wheels with unique "bluewall" tires, the ActiveE is not intended to enter full production status. However, BMW did admit that it plans to built more units of this zero-emissions 1 Series coupe than the 600-plus Mini Es it has turned out and it will have a fairly high-profile status during the 2012 Olympics to be held in London. The automaker also indicated that various key components introduced on the ActiveE may be developed further as part of its overall EfficientDynamics strategy, and could be adapted for use at some later date on BMW's upcoming Megacity Vehicle line.

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