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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.


  1. When is this car going to be available? I would like more information so please keep us informed

  2. Wilhelm,

    The ActiveE will be available to select markets in the US starting next summer. I believe it will also be in certain European markets also, but I do not know for sure. Check out the BMW ActiveE homepage for official details.

  3. Tom, I have bee enjoying your MiniE blog for about a year now and I just realized you have started this new blog. You are really an interesting person and your insights and stories are a very enjoyable read. I was wondering if you ever considered started a more commercial site that would cover all types of electric cars and evaluate & compare them. I think you could do a fantastic job of it.

  4. Thanks Rich. I don't have any plans to expand my coverage. I do occasionally write for, and but I'm not sure I'd have the time to manage a site that would be more work than these two blogs are. I can tell you that I may be more involved with the BMW folks and specifically the ActiveE program in the future so look out for details here.

  5. They should sell this car. Why do another test? It looks great, they could definitely sell this

  6. From what I have read about the Mini electric most everybody loved it and the biggest problem was the effect of the cold weather on the li-ion batteries.

    It will be interesting to see if BMW has solved this with the thermal management improvements they have made. Has this car been cold weather tested yet? What effect has the cold weather had on the range?

  7. Thomas:

    I'm not sure they have been extensively tested yet. From what I understand, there is actually only one ActiveE currently made. BMW will be making the fleet in the next six months or so and the trial lease program starts in the summer of 2011. That is when the extensive testing will really take place as hundreds of them will be driving in cold weather climates of the Northeast. One of them will be driven by me and I'll be reporting here how the thermal management system is working so check in frequently to read about the car.

  8. How much this car???

  9. Anonymous:

    BMW has not announced the pricing yet. They will be offering a one year lease and only in select markets since they are only making about 700 of these and this is a test car, not intended for sale.

    My guess would be that the lease price will be in the area of $600 to $700 per month, but that is just a guess, I do not work for BMW.