DETROIT -- BMW AG will lease its new ActiveE electric car to a limited number of customers next year in preparation for launching a plug-in vehicle in about four years, says Klaus Draeger, the BMW board member who heads r&d.
The ActiveE, unveiled at the Detroit auto show last week as a concept, will be leased in the United States and Europe beginning in 2011. The trial will be similar to one conducted with the Mini E electric vehicle in the United States. BMW did not disclose how many cars will be used in the test.
The yearlong Mini E trial, involving 450 cars in New York, New Jersey and California, was to end in early 2010 but has been extended indefinitely, says Jim O'Donnell, CEO of BMW of North America. He says some lessees have told BMW they would like to hold onto their cars.
The four-seat ActiveE, based on the 1-series coupe, uses a new-generation lithium ion battery. The car can go 100 miles (170km) on a full charge of the 170-hp electric motor.
The ActiveE is a precursor to BMW's first production plug-in electric, scheduled to arrive in the first half of this decade, Draeger says.
He says BMW is putting the second electric car into a trial program to get more customer input.
Draeger says BMW learned from the Mini E trial that customers are satisfied with the 100-mile range. The company initially was concerned that wasn't enough.
Draeger says BMW also has learned customers want to charge the car at home and perhaps at work but not at public charging stations. Draeger says drivers would be interested in public charging if it were available at a shopping center, where they would spend two to three hours.