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Driving an electric car may be as green as you can get on the road, but being green at home means investing heavily in alternative energy. In an effort to combat that, BMW and Real Goods Solar are teaming up to make solar panels more cost-efficient to intall at home for ActiveE drivers.
Coming to grips with the taxing nature EVs can have on a residential power grid is causing some car companies to explore products more akin to the housing market than the auto industry.
BMW is the latest company to announce special plans and research designed to counteract that burden by rethinking how homes use electricity. The German automaker expects to have a demo home as part of their Mountain View, Calif. technology office, completed by the end of March.
The home is designed to efficiently charge their EV, the ActiveE, which is a variation on their 1-Series while maintaining flexible power consumption to compensate for increased consumption during charging times.
Toyota introduced something similar in October, 2010 called the Toyota Smart Center, which they said would be commercially available in 2015… Do you love your Camry enough to let the same person style both your car and home? In Japan, Nissan built a demo house called Kan-kan-kyo for the same purpose.
As for BMW, they’ve paired up with Tendril, an energy management company that is helping provide data to fully examine how an EV changes household power consumption.
“We’re keen to understand how utilities will gain benefit from a program like this,” Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck said to the New York Times. “The car guys don’t want to have 3,000 relationships with all the different utilities.”
Tuck also said that even a small number of EVs charging at once could actually create demand peaks. While we’re still a long way off from having electric vehicles in every driveway, or even more than a handful per city, it could feasibly create a problem.
The auto industry is not known for sharing ideas between competitors, in fact that behavior routinely rips contracts between car companies to shreds, but keep your eye out for some serious copy cat strategy down the road.
Chevrolet is offering Volt owners a service via their OnStar system and a smartphone app that will show sources of renewable energy. That sort of power is at its peak availability during otherwise off-peak hours, encouraging Volt owners to charge off-peak.
Perhaps a similar service will be available in the future from other companies as well. For now, there are only 700 BMW ActiveEs available by lease, so it seems unlikely that they will actually market streamlined home services any time soon.
GALLERY: BMW ActiveE
[Source: New York Times]
The BMW ActiveE, or electric 1-Series, is finally available for lease, though there aren’t many up for grabs.
We originally expected this to happen last year, but BMW delayed releasing their electric car until now to streamline the delivery process. The first unit has already been delivered and there are only 700 available in total, meaning anyone interested had better move quickly. Well, sort of.
700 cars isn’t a lot, but at the same time, EVs are proving to be a tough sell with Americans. The ActiveE closely resembles the 1-Series, but has strange circuit-esque graphics on it that make it look like a company fleet vehicle. The only other exterior difference is a bulge on the hood, which seems silly when you realize such a feature is usually reserved for performance-oriented M cars. In this case, it’s there to make space for the three lithium ion storage cells.
Speaking of performance, it’s simply off the table with this one. A disappointing nine-second 0-60 time and only 170 horsepower, 60 less than the 128i, mean the only thrills you get will be going past gas stations. That won’t even be much fun though, because the car is limited to a 90 mph top speed. At 184 ft-lbs of torque, it also has less pull than a Nissan Leaf, which has 207 ft-lbs.
The ActiveE has about the same range as it’s competition, about 100 miles, but we wish you luck in enjoying any of the classy creature comforts you’ve probably come to love in BMWs while your palms sweat with range anxiety. The ActiveE is also expensive. If you want one of the 700 in your driveway, get ready to pony up $2,250 and $499 per month on a closed 24-month lease. Unless you’re dead set on driving an electric BMW for personal reasons, this might be one to avoid. The only real upside is that the back seats are still intact, unlike the electric MiniE, which became a two seater in the name of going gasless.
GALLERY: 2012 BMW ActiveE
BMW North America CEO Jim O’Donnell apparently made some “disparaging” remarks about electric vehicles, including his dislike for EV tax credits, and his belief that the battery range currently available makes them an unrealistic proposition for “at least 90 percent” of the population.
O’Donnell subsequently apologized for his remarks, and re-affirmed his commitment to BMW’s EV program, stating ”I want to stress I am 100% behind our company’s plans to design, develop, lease and sell electric vehicles. We are confident we are on the right path with the range and flexibility of the all-new BMW ActiveE and the forthcoming BMW i3 (seen above).”
For our part, we think O’Donnell was being candid and perhaps a bit too honest, especially regarding the company he works for, but we are inclined to agree with his original statements, despite our enthusiasm for electric car technology.
Ahead of the Geneva show, BMW has unveiled their first electric vehicle, the ActiveE: a 1-Series coupe that’s good for 170 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque, and 100 miles on a single charge.
This gives the ActiveE a 0-60 time good for nine seconds. And BMW says the batteries can be fully charged in four to five hours through a standard wall outlet, with a rapid charger. The batteries decrease cargo space by approximately 3 cu. feet, but interior changes are minimal, and it can still seat four adults.
Against a regular 1-Series, the ActiveE sports bright white paint, circuit board graphics along its flanks, a goofy “power bulge” hood, and low-resistance wheels and tires. And that’s about it. The ActiveE’s powertrain is supposed to preview the futuristic Megacity concept that BMW will launch in 2013; call this a sneak preview, then, without the carbon fiber body or Blade Runner styling. Which is the idea BMW is promoting behind the ActiveE: a production-ready car that packs the drivetrain of the future, but doesn’t look like it does.
It will go on sale in select markets and cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, New York, Boston and in Connecticut. Production is slated at over 1,000 units.