A fleet of ActiveE started to roam the streets of Beijing on Tuesday as BMW’s "project i" entered the second phase in China–after the field testing of the Mini E. 20 Beijingers were given keys of the pure-electric sedans, and for 4,200 Yuan a month (after paying a deposit of 30,000 Yuan) they can drive them for a year. The demonstration program will soon expand to another Chinese city, Shenzhen, where 15 residents have been chosen to be BMW’s "Electronauts."
Building on the trial of Mini E, which was conducted in China in 2011, the ActiveE testing is intended to provide further support for the release of BMW’s i series. Both the i3 and i8 are scheduled to hit the local market in early 2014.
The Chinese program, themed "electrifying the city," was run jointly by BMW China, State Grid, Southern Grid, and CATARC (China Automotive Technology & Research Center). The two power companies play a key role in installing and maintaining the charging facilities for the program, while CATARC will collaborate on data collection and analysis.
To become a driver of ActiveE, applicants should have a private, indoor garage or parking spot that can be assigned specifically to the test EV. The parking space, as BMW further requires, should be within 100 meters from a power distribution station/room that is owned by State Grid or Southern Grid, which are responsible for installing a charging post at the parking spot. Hard to come by, these and other conditions made only a small group of Beijing residents suitable candidates.
The AcitiveE employs a 125kW electric motor, which is mounted on the rear axle and draws energy from a 32Kwh lithium-ion battery pack. It has a driving range of 160km. With a charger of 32 amps and 220 volts, the battery pack can be fully replenished in 4-5 hours.