A small internet storm erupted last week when a Facebook user posted a photo (above) on the wall of the Chevy Volt Owners group. For many electric car enthusiasts the image of eight crushed BMW ActiveE coupes on the back of a semi-trailer brought back memories of the end of the GM EV1 program.
According to the Facebook user, the photo was taken in southern California and all up there 16 crushed ActiveEs being hauled away.
The outrage was quelled somewhat when BMW issued a statement. Speaking to InsideEVs company spokesman David Buchko said American ActiveEs were legally registered as prototypes, so the company isn't at liberty to sell them on at the end of their lease period. Some vehicles which had reached the end of their leases, like those pictured, were stripped of their battery packs and sent off to the crusher.
Others, though, have been spared that fate, for now at least. A few have been shipped back to the company's headquarters in Munich for ongoing research. While "the most well cared for" ActiveEs have been temporarily redeployed to the company's San Francisco-only Drive Now car sharing program, which currently has 150 ActiveE models in its fleet.
The lithium-ion battery packs from the cars earmarked for crushing will be sent on to researchers who are investigating second life uses for depleted EV batteries.
Based on the first-generation BMW 1 Series coupe, the ActiveE formed the second stage of BMW's electric car project that's culminated in the i3 hatchback and i8 coupe. Featuring a 125kW/250Nm electric motor under the hood and a 32kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the ActiveE had a range of around 160km on a full charge.
With a limited production run of just 1100 units, the ActiveE was made available only via a 24-month lease. In the US entry into the ActiveE club required a US$2250 downpayment on top of the US$499 monthly fee; some drivers also had to shell out up to US$2500 for a charging station.