BMW has already put its toe in the water when it comes to electric vehicles with the Mini E, which it leased to 500 customers for a trial period. Now, the automaker will take an all-electric drivetrain and toss it into its 1 Series design, which it’s calling the BMW Concept ActiveE.
Debuting in 2011 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the ActiveE puts up similar numbers to a few other electric vehicles we’ve already heard so much about, such as the Nissan Leaf. The ActiveE’s lithium-ion battery will have a range of 100 miles per charge and a recharging time of 4.5 hours, BMW says. The difference, of course, is that BMW promises its premium driving experience along with that luxury feel. Judging from images of the interior, BMW doesn’t plan to let the ActiveE disappoint in that regard.
Like it did with the Mini E, BMW plans to conduct field tests with the ActiveE in North America and Europe next month to compile real world data before moving forward with full-fledged production. This is no doubt a way to see how the electric vehicle market develops over the next five years. If governments kick in with the proper support, infrastructure will follow, and — this is kind of important — luxury buyers will actually want to opt for a 1 Series ride that can go only 100 miles before you need to plug it in for 4.5 hours.
Interestingly, BMW says any electrically powered serial production vehicle based on the ActiveE will be marketed under a sub-brand of BMW sometime within the first half of the next decade.