BMW EV optimism has limited range

Automotive News reports on BMW's plans for electric vehicles.

Auto Tech

Proponents of electric vehicles have an ongoing argument about how EVs fit into the market.

Will they be no-compromise vehicles capable of traveling long distances, enabled by rapid charging and battery swapping? Or niche cars for urbanites?

For BMW, the answer is clear. At least initially, BMW sees its EVs as city cars for buyers who don't mind limited range.

BMW's first step was the Mini E program, in which it leased 450 EVs in greater New York and California. Jack Pitney, vice president for marketing at BMW of North America, said Mini E drivers were OK with limited range.

"Ninety-five percent of our Mini E customers realized very quickly that with a 100-mile range, on a daily basis, really there is no issue," Pitney said in an interview in Detroit. Beginning in July, BMW will lease 700 1-series-based EVs called the ActiveE. The car will have an "all-new, smart electrical system that will enable you to charge the vehicle at optimum times," Pitney said.

BMW's first true production EV will be its Megacity Vehicle, meant for major urban areas. Production begins in 2013.

That's when BMW will have to market an EV in earnest. Pitney foresees two selling points: zero emissions and punchy performance.

Will an EV drive like a BMW? "Electric cars are all about torque," Pitney said. "They accelerate really well."

Green briefs

-- The Plug-In 2010 Conference & Exposition takes place July 26-29 in San Jose, Calif. Information: plugin2010.com.

-- Clean Energy Fuels Corp. of Seal Beach, Calif., will expand its New York area network of compressed natural gas stations, adding points in the New York borough of Queens and next to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The stations, which are designed mainly for taxis, limousines and paratransit vehicles, will be open to the public.

-- The Second Annual Michigan Electric Vehicle Rally & Show is scheduled for June 12 in the Detroit suburb of Livonia, Mich. Information: michiganeaa.org.

-- Joachim Milberg, BMW AG supervisory board chairman, is the leading candidate to head a new German group to promote electric vehicles, according to Automobilwoche, the German sibling publication of Automotive News. Germany aims to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2020.

(Source: Automotive News)

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