BMW ActivE Part 1: Are Electric Vehicles (EV) The Next Generation?

BMW ActivE (image courtesy of BMW USA)

Looks like your standard BMW 1 Series, right?

Wrong.

Aside from the glimmering street lights shining against the wet pavement to make that car look about three times more expensive than it really is, what else makes this car strangely unique from the conventional BMW 1 Series it calls its brother? 

Electric. No, not hybrid. Electric. And this isn’t your grandpa’s old 1915 Detroit Electric Brougham, either. For those of you who believe EVs to be a thing of modern times and don’t believe me, take a look:

(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia)

It certainly doesn’t look like a strange mix of a Bugatti, a Maybach, and Captain James T. Kirk’s USS Enterprise, either…

The Electric Lithium Ion Car

(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia)

No. It looks like pure German engineering. Some of the best cars, year in and year out, and this time created by one of the world’s top quality car manufacturers: BMW. Modeled after the BMW 1 Series, which propelled BMW above Lexus as the leading luxury car manufacturer, the BMW ActivE is an electric vehicle that can compete with many naturally-aspirated, conventional fuel-driven vehicles. 170 ponies under the hood and 184 pounds of torque puts it just behind the old E46 325i model with respect to performance.

Not bad for a car that releases no fuel emissions.

Did I mention that BMW ramped up its tech-prowess with the BMW eDrive, including energy flow and vehicle performance specifications?

(Image Courtesy of BMW USA)

By the way…you can also view this information on your iPhone or Android-based phones with the new BMW EVolve App. This app will sync with your vehicle to get you cool statistics as well as achievements for all you gamers-on-the-go.

There are, of course, three primary pitfalls of this vehicle–two of which are a bit snobbish of me, but my apologies for loving the thrill of a car shredding the pavement underneath you. First of all, the car is rather quiet. It makes hardly any noise, so no one even knows you’re driving your new Bimmer. Major killjoy for me. Secondly, the top speed is 90 miles per hour! I know, I know, the speed limit is 65 (or 55, or 70, depending on the freeway), but there are times that I’m driving to Las Vegas and I just want to floor my car and watch it take off at 120 MPH, the steering wheel gripped so tightly within my hands that my knuckles turn white and my palms turn purple. I can have a full course meal going 90 to Vegas–sorry.

Which brings me to my final gripe. Don’t go thinking you’ll be on any long trips during your tenure with this vehicle. With a 100 mile driving limit before recharging, which takes you an additional 4-5 hours for a full charge, it’ll take you about a day to make the trip to Las Vegas from Los Angeles that I do in three hours currently.

Keep in mind–this is just a preliminary review. I’ve slapped my name onto the list for the July 2011 field testing lease, so I’ll definitely follow up later this year with some hands-on, raw performance and functionality critiques. Even if I’m not one of the lucky lessees, you can all bet that I will have my hands on one of these to finish up Part 2 of my review.

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