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by Karl Peskett

At the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, BMW is presenting its ActiveE electric test vehicle for the first time.

Based on a 1 Series Coupe, the ActiveE is the second such electric test car for the German marque and is the first BMW branded electric car that still retains the packaging of a regular BMW Coupe.

The engine, transmission and fuel tank have been replaced by three large energy storage units containing lithium-ion cells and are protected by a steel-plate battery housing with integrated liquid cooling system. Keeping the batteries cool helps to increase the range, while the steel plates help the ActiveE to meet safety requirements.

The benchmark 0-100km/h sprint is achieved in nine seconds, and the ActiveE has a top speed of 145km/h. The electric motor provides power and torque of 125kW and 250Nm respectively.

The BMW ActiveE also has a gliding mode, where direct drive is disengaged while the car is moving under its own momentum and has no input from the driver’s accelerator or brake pedal – effectively coasting along. Braking, of course, is used as a generating source, which in turn brakes the car further and more rapidly.

To also conserve battery life, there is an ECO PRO mode in which the heating and air conditioning use less energy and the accelerator gives less power with the same travel.

The ActiveE can be charged from a 32A power source in five hours, or overnight from the regular wall socket, meaning it can be charged almost anywhere.

Later this year, a fleet of over 1,000 BMW ActiveE vehicles will be trialled in the USA, Europe and China and will provide data and valuable insights into the everyday use of the electric vehicle.