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Thursday, December 9, 2010

More ActiveE Spy Shots Appear

These recently published spy photos were posted on a site called Motor Authority. They don't reveal any new details that I can tell, but it does seem odd that the PEU (power electronics unit) doesn't fit under the hood yet so they either haven't really engineered the entire "engine bay" area to fit all the components yet. One funny thing is the car has a sticker that say's "hybrid test vehicle".
Aaaa, no it's not... Have fun:



 


Click on any picture to enlarge.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is a Super Bowl ActiveE sighting in the works?

Various reports are surfacing that claim BMW will return to the Super Bowl with a commercial ad for the first time in ten years.


Everybody knows Super Bowl commercials have evolved to much more than a simple commercial on a great time slot. They are part of the entertainment of the game and are even judged against each other by the media. Aside from being incredibly expensive (a 30 second ad costs about 3 million dollars), the Super Bowl offers a unique opportunity to reach an enormous audience of vastly different demographics.

The reports go on to say that BMW is parting ways with their global creative agency, Omnicom Group's GSD&M Idea City and have hired Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners. It's unclear if KBS&P will be given the task of creating the Super Bowl ad.

So the big question here is will they mention the ActiveE? BMW is about  to launch many new cars, and a whopping 60% of their 2011 lineup will be new or redesigned models so they obviously have a lot to tell the public. Let's hope that between the challenge of creating a unique enjoyable spot, and the desire to show off their new cars, they find the time to show the world the future of the automotive industry: E-mobility!

Note to BMW: I'm available if you need someone to drive the ActiveE in the commercial!

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Electronics Does the ActiveE Have in Store?

Images have been leaking out that show some detail on what the ActiveE information screens will look like as well as what features the driver will be able to control remotely through smartphone connectivity. 

The MINI-E's that are on the road now really don't have anything remotely similar to the features that will be in the ActiveE or eventually the Megacity car.  It is really just a MINI Cooper that has retrofitted with an electronic drivetrain. The instrumentation is basic MINI with very little changes to actually reveal that the car is indeed electric. Other than the charge meter where the tachometer usually and the ability to toggle a button on the blinker lever to reveal a small amount of information about the car, you would never know that it is an electric car.



That will change with the ActiveE as BMW has had time to properly engineer this car so that is has all the bells and whistles that you would want in such an advanced vehicle. While BMW hasn't announced the features that the car will have, these pictures should give you an idea of what they are planning.  The ability to program the car to precondition the cabin and battery temperature while still plugged into the grid will be a welcome feature. Also from the pictures it seems that you will be able to lookup directions to charge stations on your smartphone and send them to your ActiveE. You will see if the charger is currently in use or available, what level charging is there and how to get there.


I'll be pressing BMW to release more information about the cars capabilities and hopefully have some more information soon.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

BMW to Invest $740 Million To Build Megacity and Future Electric Cars

BMW recently announced it will invest $560 million over the next three years at its production facility in Leipzig to build a variety of new electric vehicles, including the ActiveE, and then the Megacity and Vision supercar in 2013, plus another $180 million to make EV components and materials.

During the past year and a half that I have been in the MINI-E program, I have displayed the car and many "Green Car Expo's" and I have spoken at various events that promote green transportation. I have frequently come across people that say to me that BMW isn't committed to electric cars. That they only built the MINI-E to satisfy the California Air Resources Boards requirements and have no intention on really building and selling electric cars. Even after BMW announced the Megacity vehicle I would still be met with doubters that would say they will make them in low production numbers, just enough to be a halo car for BMW. I often debated their position and explained that BMW was sincere, and that they are moving methodically to make sure they get it right.

Now after the recent announcement that they will be investing nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars to build electric cars is there any doubt that they are committed to electric cars? I'm sure there will be some that continue to question it, but in my opinion, any reasonable person has to be convinced that BMW is serious about not only making electric cars, but being the world leader at it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics Gets the Green Light!

I know this is a BMW ActiveE site, but this news is too good not to report. The Megacity isn't the only plug in car that BMW will be offering in 2013. BMW just announced the above pictured prototype called the Vision Efficient Dynamics will also be available for sale in 2013!

I'm sure there will be some changes from the above pictures prototype, but the car will be basically the same mid-engined plug-in hybrid supercar when it goes into production and that is really awesome. Now obviously this will not be a car that the average Joe will be able to afford. Hell, I'm probably much better off financially than the average Joe and I can't even think of shelling out the estimated $150,000 it's going to cost, but that's not going to stop me from wanting one. Anyway, I figure maybe, just maybe BMW might want to give me one. Yes, that's right, I said GIVE me one. Let me explain.


By 2013 when it will be available, I'll have spent over four years in the MINI-E and ActiveE programs, providing BMW with lot of information and valuable data, but that's not nearly all. I have also been blogging about their e-mobility programs, speaking at many green car expo's and doing everything I can to promote the MINI-E and ActiveE programs. I've spent days at a time shooting videos for BMW, doing photo shoots and speaking to dozens of newspaper, magazine and online journalists about BMW's commitment to sustainability and their electric car future.

So I figure by the time the car is available, I'll have spent 50 months driving and promoting their brand. That's roughly 1,500 days. So now if the car costs $150,000 and they were gracious enough to GIVE me one, that would be like paying me $100 per day for the entire time I've been "working" for them. Geez, when I put it that way it doesn't sound so crazy after all..... I bet it would look great in my garage parked next to my shiny new Megacity. Both cars charging with the electricity I produce with my solar PV system, now that's a garage of the future! Anyone over there in Munich think this is a good idea and wants to make me really happy? I guess you know where to find me if you agree and oh yeah, I'll take mine in black, please. ; )

For more details on the car, follow this link.
 Update: I just uploaded this video of the car
 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ulrich Kranz Talks about the ActiveE



Ulrich Kranz, head of BMW Project i, and Peter Ratz, head of development for Project i, discusses the upcoming ActiveE. I can't seem to get the video to be the proper size so double click on it and it will take you to the video on YouTube and you will be able to view the entire screen. There is a lot of ActiveE information here so watch all the videos. It starts out kind of slow, but then focuses on a lot of technical information towards the end. There is more ActiveE information in these three videos than I have seen anywhere. Have fun!

Below is part two of the video series:


And part three:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The BMW ActiveE Addresses The Three Main Shortcomings The MINI-E Proved To Have

The MINI-E program was BMW's first step to producing an all electric car that they will offer of sale in 2013. The program has been a huge success by any measure, and valuable information has been gained.

Part of the being in the MINI-E program has been providing feedback to BMW about the likes and dislikes of the car. The three biggest complaints that were reported by the MINI-E "pioneers" were: 1) The fact the the battery takes up the entire back seat area so the car is only a two seater and thus is limiting. 2) The battery is so big, it even swallows up most of the hatchback storage space so you can't fit much stuff in the car. 3) the lack of a sophisticated thermal management system. This, in my opinion is the really the biggest flaw the MINI-E has.

Here in New Jersey we get both very hot summers and really cold winters so the it has been a really good test area for the thermal management system of the car. The California Trial Lease participants didn't have to deal with the extreme cold we had to on the East Coast, but those of us here on the East know how much impact the cold had on the MINI-E's battery. The MINI-E's passive system is nothing more than a fan that blows cabin air over the battery pack. It does work fine when temperatures are between 40 degrees and 90 degrees, but the extreme temperatures proved to be more than this simple passive layout can handle so BMW has designed a liquid based, active thermal management system that should alleviate the problems we had in these extreme temperatures.

There are a lot of reasons why I can't wait to get my hands on an ActiveE, but testing how well the temperature management system is at the top of the list. The other issues of no back seat and the need for more storage space have also been solved, as the ActiveE seats four and has a conventional trunk for storage.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Want to Drive an ActiveE?

Do you live in the either the New York Metro, greater Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento or Boston areas and want to lease an all electric BMW ActiveE?

The BMW ActiveE field trial will be similar to the MINI-E lease program that I am currently in and will start sometime in late spring/early summer of 2011. Complete details have not yet been announced but will be shortly. You can get the latest ActiveE information here and all official ActiveE information as well as how to apply to be in the program on the official BMW ActiveE website that can be found at THIS LINK.

Check frequently because the application process will not be open for a long time. I believe the information on how to apply will be posted in the near future so keep checking if you are really interested. I say go for it, you won't regret it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

First Sighting of a BMW ActiveE on the Streets



The first BMW Active to be seen driving on the street (to my knowledge) was spotted and reported by  Bimmerpost and 1Addicts. The car looks pretty much like the prototype other than some subtle changes like gray graphics instead of blue, a hood scoop, different wheels & tires, a new lower front air dam and some other small body changes. I do like the fact that the sticker graphics aren't quite as "loud" and the big "Efficient Dynamics" sticker is no longer on the side of the car.
I have no problem advertising that the car is all electric and zero emission, but all the other stuff looks tacky in my opinion. Jump over the 1Addicts for more pictures and reader comments HERE.

Monday, September 27, 2010

BMW's Project i goes online

BMW has recently created an online platform for information and news concerning the sustainable mobility of the future. The MINI-E was the first vehicle to come from the Project i program and the ActiveE next summer will be the next. This BMW managed site looks like it will be a good resource for information on BMW's e-mobility plans. Click HERE to jump to the site.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

BMW announces the markets that the ActiveE will be tested in

There has been a lot of speculation as to which markets the BMW ActiveE will be available in. BMW had previously stated only that they planned on making about 700 of them and that they would lease them to customers in a trial lease program similar to the MINI-E trial lease. MINI-E participants were told that if we stayed in the program for a second year that we would be guaranteed an opportunity to lease an ActiveE, so that meant they were going to be available at least in New York, New Jersey and the Los Angeles area.


A story over at BMWBLOG claims that in addition to the MINI-E markets, a select group of customers in
San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento and Boston will also have the opportunity to lease an ActiveE.

Continue to the full article here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Details Emerge About the 2013 Megacity

BMW Chief Designer Adrian Van Hooydonk talked to Wallpaper about the upcoming Megacity Vehicle (MCV) and the future green BMW sub-brand. Here is a link to BMWBLOG about the discussion. The 2013 BMW Megacity car is the first all electric BMW that will be offered for sale. The ActiveE that I am writing about here is basically a test vehicle that will have all the Megacity components in it and people like me will be driving the car for about a year to give BWM real world feedback and endurance-test the components so when they do sell the car, buyers will have an awesome, finished product! The ActiveE program will start spring/summer of 2011 when the MINI-E electric car program that I am currently in ends.

Monday, August 9, 2010

ActiveE ad Banned in the UK


The above ad was banned by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) because they thought is was misleading. The argument they presented is because most people that drive the car will need to get electricity from the grid which burns mostly coal for generation so the car is responsible for emissions, even if the pollution is not emitting from the car itself. 

This is called the "long tailpipe" argument that EV opponents use to undermine the benefits of electric vehicles. There is some truth to it, since most electricity generation does cause emissions, but there have been countless studies that have proven how much better it is for the environment to use grid-generated electric verses gasoline. Plus, you can generate electricity from clean, renewable sources, something you can never say about gasoline. 

So I have a suggestion for BMW. Deliver the first ActiveE you produce to me and I'll swap it for the MINI-E. You can then take photos of me driving the car and charging it at my home with my 8.8kwh solar PV system in the background and you can advertise how the car is truly a zero emission vehicle since it is charged exclusively from my home where I generate more than double the electric that the car will need to use. My ActiveE will be a zero emission vehicle, period!

You have my contact info BMW, in case you like the idea......

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ActiveE & MINI-E Video


(Double click on the video to watch it in full size)

A short video of the ActiveE and the MINI-E. Both cars are leading up to the Megacity vehicle that BMW will sell in 2013. The shots of the MINI-E driving in NYC in this video are of me in MINI-E #250!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Possible Megacity Renditions

The pictures above are a German artists rendition of the upcoming BMW Megacity vehicle. This is the car that the MINI-E and ActiveE are gathering information for. Slotted to be available in 2013, it will be the first electric car that BMW sells. The has been rumored to be a 3dr hatchback, seat five, be rear wheeled drive and use carbon fiber extensively as to reduce the vehicles weight.   

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ActiveE News












Richard Steinberg, Manager of electric car operations and strategy for BMW of North America was recently interviewed by Tom Murphy of WardsAuto.com. Richard discussed some of the things learned from the MINI-E program as well as the next test vehicle, the ActiveE and the Megacity car that will eventually be sold in 2013. You can jump to the full article here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The future is now


I'm currently driving an all electric MINI Cooper called the MINI-E. About 620 of these all electric cars were made and leased for one year (and then extended for a optional second year) to people in California, New York and New Jersey. After deploying roughly 500 of the cars in these three states in the US, about 50 were sent to Germany and another 50 to the UK for a similar, but shorter (6 months) trial lease program.

The purpose of this program was for BMW, makers of the MINI brand, to gather information about the driving habits of potential future electric car owners, to uncover potential problems that may arise including charging issues and cold weather problems, as well as gauge the response to an electric car. They would then use this information to help design an electric car that they would sell in 2013 called the Megacity.

Recently, BMW announced that they have designed an all electric BMW called the ActiveE and that they plan to produce about 700 of them and initiate a lease program similar to the MINI-E program starting in June 2011. The purpose of this car is to test the actual hardware that will be in the Megacity vehicle. Items like a thermal management system, a BMW designed power control unit and motor and complex electronics that are absent in the MINI-E will be tested in this car before they are put in the Megacity car and sold to the public. They then offered on year lease extensions for the current MINI-E lessees with the caveat that any of us that continue in the program for a second year will get to lease an ActiveE if we choose to in June 2011 when the ActiveE program begins.(June 2011 is coincidentally the month that the MINI-E program ends)

I have already extended my MINI-E lease for the second year and fully expect to be driving an ActiveE when the program begins in June 2011. I started a MINI-E blog to write about my experiences driving an electric car and it has been so successful that I decided to start this ActiveE blog now and I can post information as it comes before I even get the car. The info may not come for a while but I'll post whatever I get. Once I get the car I will switch to this blog from my current MINI-E blog to report on driving the future now.