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BMW’s electric “Megacity” vehicle may be approximately five years away from reaching production, but that’s not stopping the automaker from toying with electric vehicles to develop, test, and refine the technology.

After sending nearly 600 electrified Mini Es into the world, BMW will prepare a second batch of test cars, which will closely resemble the Concept ActiveE shown here.

Based largely upon a stock 1-series coupe, the ActiveE represents the second stage of BMW’s electric drive technology. While somewhat similar in nature to that used in the Mini, the ActiveE’s system was completely developed in-house specifically for the 1-series’ rear-wheel-drive architecture.

Propulsion is a 170-hp (125 kW) electric motor built into the rear axle. The motor produces approximately 184 lb-ft of torque, and can move the car from 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds -- approximately 1.5 seconds slower than a 128i with a manual transmission.

Electricity comes courtesy of a new modular lithium ion battery pack developed by BMW, Bosch, and Samsung. A modular design, BMW is able to tuck the package into the space previously occupied by the transmission and drive shaft, allowing the ActiveE to exhibit close to 50/50 weight distribution. In its current form, the battery allows for approximately 100 miles of range, and when using a 50-amp, 240-volt charging source, can be replenished in approximately three hours.

As is the rage these days, users can control and configure a number of systems via a mobile device like the iPhone. Drivers can control the car’s climate system from afar to pre-heat or cool the interior. Charging information and battery status, can be displayed in real time, allowing drivers to see if the car will have enough range for an upcoming trip.

Styling wise, the ActiveE follows in the footsteps of the Mini E, which, aside from graphics proclaiming its high-voltage bits, largely resembled its gas-powered counterpart. Front spoiler and the special aluminum wheels are designed to help reduce aerodynamic drag, while the closed rear fascia (i.e. there’s no cut-out for an exhaust tip) is a give-away to bystanders that they’re looking at an electric car. Blue highlights inside and large, vibrant decals on the exterior could likely make their way to a production vehicle, but don’t expect the translucent filler flap and trunk panel to carry over into the real world.

Although the ActiveE makes its conceptual debut at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the batch of test vehicles won’t likely reach consumers and fleets until later in 2010. As was the case with the Mini E, the cars will only be leased to select consumers, and we wouldn’t be surprised if BMW again restricts where the cars are offered.

source: automobilemag

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