MEDIA REVIEWS is a compilation of reviews and write-ups of test drives of various e-drive vehicles by the different authors and media. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of EV World. Click the article title to expand the story.
BMW Brings DriveNow Electric Carshare to Bay Area
Using ActiveE electric cars based on BMW 1 Series, DriveNow charges a one-time fee of $39; you then pay $12 for the first half hour and $0.32 for each additional driving minute.
Business Insider 23 May 2014
BMW's car-sharing service, called DriveNow, is adding 80 cars to its fleet in the Bay Area, and starting this month, it will offer street parking spots in the Mission District in San Francisco.
That means that you don't have to drop the car off in a dedicated lot, as you would with, say, Zipcar. Instead, the car will tell you when you're in an approved drop-off zone, which is between Potrero Avenue and Folsom Street and between 16th and 26th streets.
"We're starting in certain streets in the Mission District, and on those streets, we only have to contend with street cleaning," Dana Goldin, DriveNow's chief marketing officer, told Business Insider. "So right now we're avoiding meters and we're avoiding residential permit areas."
After you drop off the car, push the "End Booking" button, and all you have to worry about is avoiding a street cleaning ticket. You can also drop the car off in one of the 17 DriveNow stations, located around the Bay Area, including Palo Alto and both the San Francisco and Oakland airports.
"On the website, in the app, and in the car, you can view the DriveNow drop-off zone," Goldin said.
And one-way dropoffs are allowed, which makes for a way cheaper ride than taking a taxi to the airport.
DriveNow charges a one-time fee of $39; you then pay $12 for the first half hour and $0.32 for each additional driving minute. If you park or charge the car during the rental period, you only pay $0.13 per minute. You can also pay by the day.
Let's all just get along
Although it may seem that DriveNow is gunning after Zipcar, that's not necessarily the case, said Richard Steinberg, CEO of DriveNow USA. With Zipcar, you reserve the car further in advance and it's up to the drivers to return the cars to the appropriate spot when their time is up.
But DriveNow allows you to use the car as you need it: you can book the car just 15 minutes in advance.
"We're not necessarily giving you the same liability or guarantee that Zipcar does, but we give you the spontaneity," Steinberg told Business Insider. "We believe the two services are complementary: their service makes sense in certain instances, and our services makes sense in other instances."
Luxurious, eco-friendly cars
The fleet consists of 70 BMW ActiveE all-electric cars, which are based on the BMW 1 Series Coupe. They have a range of about 100 miles before they need to be charged.
I didn't get a chance to test-drive the ActiveE, but I did get a chance to take the similar i3 out for a spin. The i3 is the next phase in BMW's "Project i" program, which aims to develop a lightweight, eco-friendly electric car for city dwellers. People field tested and gave their feedback on the ActiveE, and BMW followed up with the i3.
The i3 offered a smooth ride and cool looks. The body is made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, and the inside is made of recycled and eco-friendly materials.
Looking forward, DriveNow looks to expand its number of cars, so that there could be a DriveNow car on every block. It just added 80 cars to its fleet, bringing the total to 150 in the Bay Area.
DriveNow and its street parking component is already a success in Germany, where they have around 2,350 cars in the fleet.
It wants to extend street parking to include areas of Bernal Heights, Haight Ashbury, Noe Valley, NOPA, Alamo Square, and Potrero Hill in San Francisco by 2014 — all parts of the city that allow DriveNow to stay within parking regulations.
"Street parking has been a challenge for us, because that's our true business model," Goldin says. "So we took a hybrid approach with having stations here first, and then we want to open up more street parking."
DriveNow here in the U.S. is based on how it works in Germany, where there's basically a car on every block. "Pretty much anywhere you are, you're going to find a car," Steinberg said. "And that's the model we're basing it on."
BMW Introduces Active Tourer Outdoor Electric Hybrid Concept
eDrive electric hybrid offers EV-mode driving range from 20 to 30 km (12-19 mi).
BMW 11 Jul 2013
BMW is using the presentation of the new BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor at the outdoor activities summit meeting in Friedrichshafen to demonstrate how a compact vehicle can combine comfort and the use of space with the enjoyment of sports and leisure. The plug-in hybrid also offers a preview of drive variants that promise to feature in compact class vehicles in the future. The BMW eDrive concept familiar from the BMW i8, which enables the car to run on electric power alone (and therefore produce zero local emissions), will cover all the brand's electric and plug-in hybrid drive systems in the years ahead. eDrive spans all the components of the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor's electric drive system, such as the electric motor (developed in-house), the lithium-ion high-performance battery and the intelligent energy management system. The combination of a combustion engine and an electric motor delivers sporting performance coupled with average fuel consumption of approximately 2.5 l/100 km (113 mpg imp) and CO2 emissions of under 60 g/km.
Combination of sporty looks and impressive variability
Its harmonious proportions ensure the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor cuts a sporty figure from any angle. With an exterior length of 4,350 millimetres, width of 1,833 millimetres and height of 1,576 millimetres, the plug-in hybrid blends compact dimensions with an attractive, sporty design and hallmark BMW aesthetics. The long wheelbase (2,670 millimetres), a higher roofline and a compact, transversely mounted engine sending its power to the front wheels combine to deliver generous interior space. The variable rear compartment of the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor offers both all-round everyday usability and sufficient space for outdoor sports equipment, as the hybrid drive system's batteries are fitted underneath the load compartment floor.
The design: sporty and functional
The BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor proves that compact dimensions, functionality and variability can be blended skilfully with dynamic design. The exclusive Gold Race Orange exterior paintwork accentuates the sporty appearance of the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor. A dominant element of the characteristic BMW front view is the striking, slightly forward-leaning BMW kidney grille, complete with eye-catching orange accent strips for two of the grille bars. The twin headlights with LED accent lights positioned like eyebrows above them extend far into the front wings and, together with the multifaceted front apron, strengthen the presence of the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor. The two large outer air intakes below the main headlights emphasise the sporting impression of the front end.
When seen in profile, even at standstill, the elongated silhouette with its suggestion of a wedge shape lends the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor a dynamic aura that is unmatched in this class. 20-inch wheels partly painted in Gold Race Orange reinforce the car's sporting looks.
Defined horizontal body lines headline the rear-end view of the compact BMW. The large rear lights, extending well into the car's flanks, accentuate the broad face of the wheels, lending visual emphasis to the car's consummate road presence. The large tailgate offers convenient access to the load compartment, thanks to its low loading sill and wide aperture. The exhaust tailpipes integrated into the rear apron of the BMW Active Tourer Outdoor are likewise in Gold Race Orange.
New feeling of space, with hard-wearing materials
The BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor's interior is generous in its design, creating a completely new feeling of space. The centre console appears to be floating between the front seats and flows smoothly into the instrument panel. This arrangement provides the driver and front passenger with the greatest possible legroom. The raised seats with their semi-command position offer outstanding all-round visibility, setting the seal on the car's unimpeachable levels of usability and comfort. The Alu Mesh MoonGrey trim surface, made from a high-quality aluminium-fronted material, provides a visual connection between the instrument panel's upper trim surface in MoonRock Grey Steron and lower surface in MoonWhite leather. The same materials headline the door trim and front seats, while the brightly perforated leather seat inlays and leather door armrests are particularly durable and easy to clean. Added to which, Gold Race leather accent surfaces for the door trim and understated orange leather applications for the seats underline the car's sporting character. The interplay of colours generated by the materials extends as far as the rear compartment. In order to meet the challenges presented by leisure activities - in any weather - the load compartment floor covering comes in a robust, easy-to-clean, studded plastic material in MoonRock Grey. A refreshing contrast is provided by the leather stowage compartment covers for the load compartment floor and the left-hand side trim in Gold Race Orange.
Superbly equipped for sport and leisure: the integrated bicycle carrier and other clever details
One example of the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor's clever utilisation of space is the carrier system for two bicycles presented for the first time in Friedrichshafen. In contrast to conventional solutions, this carrier is not mounted on the outside of the vehicle, but instead integrated into the interior to save space. As well as keeping bicycles dry and clean, this also has the advantage of protecting them extremely effectively from theft and damage. And when not in use, the carrier system disappears away into the side structure of the car or the load compartment floor, without restricting interior space.
Thus equipped, the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor is ready to tackle a wide range of everyday and leisure-time transportation tasks. And that makes it the ideal companion for outdoor activities such as mountain biking, trekking and bicycle racing, especially as the last 20 to 30 kilometres (12 - 19 miles) of the journey to the start line can be completed on electric power alone and therefore with zero local emissions. However, the BMW also demonstrates impressive functionality in urban conditions. For example, the clever bicycle carrier offers an environmentally friendly mobility option where city centre parking is at a premium; the BMW can be parked outside overcrowded central areas and the journey completed in far more relaxed fashion on two wheels.
The extended functionality of the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor is underpinned by a level load compartment floor created by folding down the rear seats. The carrier system is mounted against the left side of the boot area and consists of a rail system with a pivoting bracket. The rail is fitted with two mounts which hold the top tube of each bicycle in place. The bikes' saddles must be removed and front wheels detached before they are secured in place, which, with the quick-release mechanisms of modern sports bikes, should take only a few seconds. It is also amazingly easy to stow the wheels in a separate holder, which is integrated into the right-hand rear backrest and simply folded out when needed.
Securing the bicycles themselves is also simple and extremely convenient. The pivot bracket opens out and slides out from the interior on the rail. The bicycles are then placed on the carrier transversely to the direction of travel and fixed in place. Once the bracket has been closed again, the bicycles can be pushed back effortlessly into their resting position in the interior.
The carrier system's user-friendly pivoting mechanism also offers another advantage. The transverse rest position for the bikes allows assembly and maintenance work to be carried out effortlessly. This area of the car includes another particularly clever detail. The storage compartment recessed into the centre of the load area floor offers space for the bike saddles, all kinds of tools and small parts, while the pull-out cover can be used as a seat or step.
Cutting-edge display experience with extended black panel technology
The cockpit of the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor boasts BMW's customary level of driver orientation, which means all the important controls are within easy reach. The multifunction instrument display, complete with extended black panel technology, allows drivers to feast their eyes on totally new display functionality. The four-dial view will be familiar, but the COMFORT, SPORT and ECO PRO driving experience modes, for example, are all given their own display sections and individual colour schemes, enhancing safety and efficiency and providing exceptional driver focus. Indeed, the driver benefits from an instrument display showing information tailored optimally to the situation at hand.
The large 8-inch display in the centre of the instrument panel is used to access the suite of BMW ConnectedDrive services and the new navigation system's route planning functions. The central Control Display also shows the current operating status of the hybrid system, which means the driver is kept informed at all times on the usage profile of the combustion engine and electric motor and given a better understanding of the energy flow within the system. The hybrid drive system's power electronics are linked up to the intelligent Navigation system Plus, allowing it to work as efficiently as possible. The data gained as a result, such as the route profile, speed limits and traffic situation, prepare the vehicle for imminent requirements and therefore allow the available energy to be used with maximum efficiency.
eDrive: the drive system powering the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor
The BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor is designed as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV = Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) linking up the advantages of an electric motor with those of a traditional combustion engine to maximum effect. Plug-in hybrid vehicles normally have a range of well over 30 kilometres (approx. 20 miles) in all-electric mode, allowing them to operate just as efficiently on both short and long journeys as well as in hybrid mode. The BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor's lithium-ion high-performance battery can be recharged from a standard 220V domestic socket. Energy can be recovered at both axles of the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor and fed back into the lithium-ion high-performance battery to further enhance the eDrive system's efficiency. The highly sophisticated 1.5-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo petrol unit from the new BMW Group EfficientDynamics engine family works in perfect tandem with a synchronous electric motor.
With a total system output of over 140 kW/190 hp, the combustion engine and electric motor combine to give the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor undeniably sporty performance credentials, while keeping fuel consumption and emissions figures extremely low. As a result, the BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor darts to 100 km/h (62 mph) from stationary in under eight seconds, going on to a top speed of around 200 km/h (125 mph). Despite these impressive performance figures, it returns average fuel consumption figures of under 2.5 litres per 100 kilometres (113 mpg imp) and posts CO2 emissions below 60 g/km.
Wide selection of BMW EfficientDynamics measures
Needless to say, the new BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor comes equipped with a host of other features packaged under the far-reaching BMW EfficientDynamics strategy. One of its key aims is to maximise range in all-electric mode, something that is achieved by minimising the energy consumption of the ancillary units. To this end, ECO PRO mode reduces the output of the air conditioning and other electrically operated comfort-enhancing functions when appropriate, as well as adapting the operation of all drive components to maximise efficiency. ECO PRO mode can also provide the driver with valuable driving tips, and the Bonus Range Display shows how many additional kilometres can be added to the car's range by keeping to the fuel-economy-maximising ECO PRO mode. The Proactive Driving Assistant works with the Navigation system Professional to anticipate local conditions and send the driver tips to prepare for the situation ahead. ECO PRO Route also plays its part in minimising fuel consumption by setting out the most efficient route based on volume of traffic, personal driving style and local conditions.
BMW and the Tyrol join forces: Route guide takes car drivers, mountain bikers and hikers on exclusive routes into the heart of the Alps
Delivering maximum driving pleasure over fascinating routes and laying on breathtaking experiences of nature amid impressive mountain scenery are the twin aims of the "Heart of the Alps" route guide. Co-developed by BMW and the tourist board of the Austrian Tyrol, the guide sets out exclusive premium routes in the Seefeld, Ötztal and Zillertal regions and offers a lead-in to enticing outdoor activities. BMW employs its technical expertise and the impressive functionality of its BMW ConnectedDrive mobility services to good effect to optimise and lend as much flexibility as possible to the tour planning process. The aim is to ensure "Heart of the Alps" users enjoy a peerless summer mountain experience.
The cooperation between BMW and the Tyrol has not come about by chance. The two partners share similar values; indeed, the typical leisure activities enjoyed by visitors to the Tyrol and prospective BMW Concept Active Tourer customers are very much comparable. BMW is a byword for innovative technology and sporting dynamics in the premium car segment, while the Tyrol has carved out a status as a leading Alpine destination with an outstanding reputation in Europe and beyond. This prestige is rooted in its magnificent nature and an outstanding tourism infrastructure boasting 25,000 km (over 15,500 miles) of hiking trails, 5,100 km (approx. 3,200 miles) of mountain bike trails, 780 km (485 miles) of cycle tracks, 1,300 mountain restaurants and huts, more than 100 climbing areas and 24 golf courses - all of which allows it to offer a top-class mountain experience.
BMW has rolled out its winter activities (including attractive premium packages for winter sports enthusiasts, the BMW xDrive Cup ski and snowboard competition, BMW Winter Driver Training courses and the BMW xDrive Guide) across 23 European winter sport destinations, from Scandinavia to southern Spain. And now, enjoyable summer activities in the mountains - such as mountain biking, climbing and hiking - can be added to the mix, courtesy of the company's new partner region, the Tyrol. These are just the sort of pursuits that will be popular among many future BMW Concept Active Tourer drivers and their families. Plus, the Tyrol also has a huge amount to offer guests heading for the mountains to recharge their batteries and enjoy peace and relaxation, or "pleasure tourists" seeking culinary and/or cultural highlights.
Perfectly prepared, thanks to BMW ConnectedDrive
The online route guide can be accessed via the BMW or Tyrol websites, or even more quickly at www.summerdrive-tirol.com. This takes the user directly to the brand-new premium tours through the heart of the Tyrol. Each of the suggested routes has its own character, defined by its contours, scenery and points of interest along the way. Some take guests over challenging mountain routes, others major on must-visit museums and areas of natural interest. BMW and the Tyrol tourist board supply detailed additional information and photos for each tour suggestion, offer recommendations on stops along the way and give helpful restaurant and hotel tips. Stages for drivers, cyclists and hikers can be also be combined as desired. Once the route planning stage has been completed, the relevant information can be transferred to a smartphone, ensuring it is available at all times during the bike or hiking stages.
On the move and online in a BMW
BMW drivers can also send route information directly from their home computer into their car. With this in mind, an increasing number of BMW models come as standard with an integrated SIM card. The browser-based BMW Online information portal, with its mobility services and service products, can be accessed inside the car using the intuitive operating system BMW iDrive Touch, which displays the desired content on the navigation system's Control Display. This ensures the passengers receive all relevant information for their route during the course of the journey. For example, they can find out while under way what the weather is like at their destination and where they can find a free parking space nearby. And last but not least, destinations and stages of the journey can be changed at short notice should, for example, a sudden change in the weather or heavy traffic make an alternative necessary.
Its extensive range of mobility services has enabled BMW ConnectedDrive to promote the intelligent link-up of drivers, their vehicles and the outside world for a number of years now. As well as an in-car SIM card (integrated into an ever expanding number of models), highly effective interface technology allows extensive use of external mobile phones and numerous Bluetooth office functions for internet-based services. The free BMW Connected app provides access to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as web radio and iPhone calendar functions, among other services. A new addition is the dictation function with full speech recognition. This feature types out spoken texts, which can then be sent as an SMS or email. Spoken and received text-based messages are shown in the Control Display.
A host of other information and office services, as well as travel and leisure planners, make life even easier for those on board. For example, the Concierge Service from BMW ConnectedDrive offers a very special range of services. At the touch of a button it connects to a BMW Call Centre agent, who will then send information on a particular restaurant, the nearest ATM or 24-hour duty pharmacy, for example, directly to the car's navigation system. The BMW Call Centre agent also takes care of hotel bookings and table reservations quickly and reliably.
Finally, the BMW driver can request a real-time update on the current traffic situation via RTTI (Real Time Traffic Information) and take advantage of any diversion recommendations. RTTI relays its information with unrivalled reliability and precision, and covers motorways, dual carriageways, country roads, and main and minor routes through city centres.
BMW ConnectedDrive contract customers can make changes to all routes as desired. In addition, users can send tours planned on their home computer to their car - either via the in-car USB interface or by saving them beforehand on the BMW Online portal.
BMW Launches Electronaut Effect Web Site
Web site features aggregate car data for the 700 BMW ActiveEs drivers who are participating in electric car field trials since January 2012.
BMW Blog 14 Apr 2013
BMW today launched the Electronaut Effect, a new digital tool that gives consumers access to key aggregated data about the range, cost savings and positive environmental impact that actual BMW ActiveE drivers – called “Electronauts” – are experiencing across the country. This unfiltered information, updated weekly, will help inform consumers’ decision about purchasing an electric vehicle.
The Electronaut Effect at www.bmwusa.com/ElectronautEffect features aggregate car data for the 700 BMW ActiveEs – the first fully-electric BMWs – and their drivers, participating in the BMW ActiveE Field Trial that began January 2012. This streamlined data is presented in three basic categories: Range (i.e., most miles driven in one day), Savings (i.e., total money saved), and Environment (i.e., gallons of gas not used).
As of today, Electronauts have driven approximately 6.1 million miles; the most miles driven in one day by a single Electronaut was 367.7. These ActiveE drivers have already saved more than $740,000 collectively by driving the all-electric cars (calculated by subtracting the money they spent on charging, from the amount they did not spend on gas). Together, they have saved well over 275,000 gallons of gas.
“The Electronaut Effect is an exciting tool because it offers consumers unvarnished, hard data on the driving performance of our fleet of ActiveE vehicles, providing a very accurate picture of the BMW electric vehicle experience and the benefits of all-electric driving,” said Jacob Harb, head of Electric Vehicle Operations and Strategy, BMW of North America. “This is an important, new resource to help drivers considering an electric vehicle purchase make informed decisions.”
The 700 Electronauts, meanwhile, will have access to a related tool, available at www.BMWActivateTheFuture.com that offers a detailed, more in-depth look at data specific to their BMW ActiveE, as well as to the entire fleet. Electronauts can see the average number of times he or she charges their ActiveE per day, average remaining charge at the end of the day, and their personal reduction in driving-related carbon footprint. Electronauts may also choose to opt into a “Current Standings” section that lets them compare select statistics to those of other Electronauts. They can view the top 25 Electronauts in the U.S. for select data points and can see their current ranks for these statistics. Or they can compare West Coast vs. East Coast driving data, such as total miles driven by coast.
Non-Electronauts who visit the www.BMWActivateTheFuture.com site will be able to view the aggregate version of this more in-depth data.
Test Driving BMW's Next Generation Electric Car
Evening test drive at average 49 mph achieved a range of 101 miles with 9 percent of battery charge remaining.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette 19 Feb 2012
Falling trees may not make a sound when nobody is there to hear -- but the sound not coming from the BMW ActiveE poses an equally profound riddle. Even in full sprint, the rear-drive coupe has absolutely no exhaust note.
That's because the car doesn't have a tailpipe -- or an engine, for that matter. It's the first 100 percent electric Bimmer, offered to 700 Americans who will help BMW evaluate its electric technology.
I recently spent a week driving one of the first production units around the San Francisco Bay Area, and never stopped marveling at the muted whir, like a jet turbine's, from the 125-kilowatt electric motor. Which poses the question: Is a BMW any less of an ultimate driving machine if it is silent?
The limited-production ActiveE -- only 1,100 will be produced globally -- weighs a hefty 4,000 pounds, some 800 pounds more than the BMW 1 Series on which it is based. But the ActiveE carries its bulk with near-gymnastic dexterity. I thoroughly enjoyed tossing the two-ton Teutonic subcompact between the lanes of the Bay Area's bridges, up and down San Francisco's steeply pitched streets and along the winding roads of Berkeley's hills.
Acceleration from a stop to 60 miles per hour comes in an unremarkable 8.5 seconds, but the feel behind the wheel -- especially the swift and smooth-as-silk surges from 0 to 30 m.p.h., and from 50 to 80 -- was blissful. The steering response is everything you would expect from a BMW.
A well-calibrated suspension helps to counter the extra weight. Dave Buchko, a BMW spokesman, said, "Our engineers are really good at selecting shocks and spring rates that provide well-controlled jounce and rebound."
Removing the engine and related parts lightened the 1 Series donor car, but installing a 32 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack added back 992 pounds. The 192 battery cells are crammed all over the place: under the raised "power dome" hood, along the driveshaft tunnel and where the fuel tank used to be.
The added bulk takes a toll on driving range. Yet I managed at least 80 miles of charge every day, even when flogging the system. Driving with more restraint took me closer to 90 miles.
One evening I took a two-hour highway spin, averaging 49 m.p.h. Using the Ecopro setting -- which dials back the throttle response, but not to a compromising degree -- I went 101 miles with 9 percent of the battery charge remaining, according to the dashboard monitor. Plugged into a 240-volt circuit, the on-board 7.7-kilowatt charger provides an empty-to-full charge in about four hours.
The interior is quintessential BMW, with tasteful materials, austere but useful displays for information like the battery state-of-charge and attention to detail that extends to each meticulous stitch in the leather upholstery.
"It's a step up from the Mini E," said Rich Steinberg, BMW's manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy in the United States. "It's got leather. It's got navi. It's got cruise. It's got heated seats. It's got satellite. All the things you'd expect from BMW."
Mr. Steinberg was referring to the all-electric version of the Mini, the previous test platform, since discontinued, in BMW's electric-car program. The Mini E was a relatively spartan car with a rough ride and batteries where the backseat might have been. The ActiveE is more refined in all respects, and it uses the same battery, motor and electric drivetrain -- developed by BMW in partnership with Bosch and SB LiMotive -- that will end up in the company's full-production electric car, the i3, which is to start trickling into the market late next year.
In the ActiveE, BMW added a liquid-based thermal management system to keep the batteries from becoming too cold or too hot. This helps to prevent the loss of driving range -- as much as 40 percent -- experienced by Mini E drivers in extremely cold weather.
The most remarkable feature carried over from the Mini E to the ActiveE is the very assertive regenerative braking, which applies strong deceleration as soon as you lift your foot off the accelerator. I drove the ActiveE down Marin Avenue, the steepest street in the Berkeley hills. Without my touching either pedal, the ActiveE slowly glided down the incline to 20 m.p.h. and eased to a crawl -- as if in an ultralow "granny gear." Imagine that same sub-first-gear feel applied on flat roads as soon as you lift your foot, bringing the car from 40 m.p.h. to a stop in about four seconds.
"One-pedal drive is something we're proud of," Mr. Steinberg said. "We're continuing to exploit it not only for the energy reasons, but also because of the driving experience." BMW estimates that one-pedal driving increases by 20 percent the amount of energy reclaimed when the electric drive motor switches into generator mode and pumps juice into the battery pack.
It took me only a few stops to figure out how to approach a stoplight -- lifting my foot off the accelerator at the right time to reach a complete stop at the right spot without touching the brake pedal. On highways or surface roads, I learned how to gently move the accelerator pedal slightly up and down, never taking my foot off, to produce the desired speed -- or to find the sweet spot where the car glides along as if coasting.
E.V.'s like the Tesla Roadster have used the single pedal approach, but BMW's one-pedal E.V. driving will become, I believe, the model for electric car engineering. I'm a convert to the single pedal, and wish the Nissan Leaf -- my usual car for daily commutes -- drove the same way.
Most E.V. makers aim to give their electric vehicles a driving and braking experience as familiar as possible to drivers of conventional gas-powered cars. The Leaf, even with its impressive quickness, has a wispy feel, whereas the ActiveE operates like a maglev train, hurtling forward, hugging corners and engaging the road (while not burning a drop of petroleum, I might add).
I had ample opportunity to switch back and forth between the ActiveE and my own Leaf. My week with the ActiveE coincided with the week I was to drive my daughter's car pool to high school. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in my latest effort to convince my daughter that her electric-Bimmer-driving dad is cool. The driver seat, slid all the way back to make room for my 6-foot-4 frame, touched the rear cushion, leaving insufficient room in the back seat for her schoolmates.
The batteries in back also trim the trunk space to a barely usable 7 cubic feet. The Leaf, on the other hand, can handle five people along with some gear under the hatch.
So the four students piled into the Leaf each morning. As soon as my parental duties were completed, I rushed back to park and plug in the Nissan and jump into the ActiveE -- transforming myself from dad-nerd to electronaut, the name BMW invented for the 700 consumers in a few Northeast and West Coast cities who are putting down $2,250 and paying $499 a month for a two-year lease. The ActiveE is not available for purchase.
The car is a "technology shakedown," according to Mr. Steinberg, letting BMW gain feedback as it continues development of the i3. That purpose-built electric four-seater -- not a conversion -- is to go on sale in a few markets by late next year, followed by wider release in 2014.
The company hasn't officially announced prices or sales goals for the i3, but a year ago Ian Robertson, BMW's head of global sales and marketing, told Automotive News that the company hoped to sell 30,000 of the futuristic cars in 2014.
Given that the ActiveE is a test platform, it was perhaps not surprising that I encountered a few glitches. Several times, a warning screen told me the shifter couldn't be moved to "P" -- and to take the car to a service center. Another time, a more emphatic "drivetrain malfunction" screen warned, "Stop carefully and turn off vehicle." I knew from online forums to ignore these as false alarms.
There were also small hiccups in ultra-low-speed driving when various conditions that were hard to identify or replicate -- maybe high torque on wet roads or braking-software miscommunications -- produced momentary wheel shake. This happened three times during my week of driving; BMW said fixes were expected within days.
As engaging as I found the ActiveE, it is just a step toward the i3, which will have a body mostly of lightweight carbon fiber. The i3 will have more legroom, four doors and subfloor packaging of the batteries -- and most important, weigh some 1,300 pounds less than the ActiveE. This will let BMW reduce the size of the battery pack to about 20 kilowatt-hours, from 32, while still providing 100 miles of range. Using the ActiveE's drivetrain and 170-horsepower motor, the much lighter i3 is likely to be a startling performer.
BMW's electric efforts won't end with the i3. "To one degree or another, you'll see plugs cascade throughout the entire BMW line," said Mr. Steinberg, the company's electric vehicle manager.
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