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The order books open for the electric BMW ActiveE

With only 700 ActiveEs to lease, you'll have to move fast if you want to be one of BMW's electric pioneers.

The BMW ActiveE.

With only 700 ActiveEs to lease, you'll have to move fast if you want to be one of BMW's electric pioneers.

Months later than expected, BMW officially opened the order books for the all-electric ActiveEfield trial today. The manufacturer was supposed to take reservations last year, but delayed it to streamline the delivery process. The first electric sedan has already been delivered to EV veterans Tom and Meredith Moloughney, who lease an electric MiniE from the manufacturer. If you think you're ready to go electric, don't drag your feet--availability will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Unlike the MiniE, which lost its back seat to accommodate a bulky battery pack, the BMW ActiveE will seat four. Details on the EV's battery pack are scarce. Rather than a single large battery pack, three lithium ion storage cells are housed in front of the cowl and where the drive train and fuel tank used to be. These liquid-cooled batteries provide a range of approximately 100 miles, depending on how the vehicle is driven. Using a 240-volt charger, the ActiveE has a charging time of approximately 25 miles per hour, or 4 to 5 hours to recharge an empty battery.

It boasts an output of 170 horsepower with 184 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60 time of under 9 seconds. The top speed is electronically limited to approximately 90 mph. Although the performance may not be what most Bimmer fans are used to, the price will be. Like most EVs, the BMW ActiveE doesn't come cheap. You can lease one for $499 per month for a closed 24-month lease and a with a $2,250 down payment. On the upside, you won't be paying for gas.

The BMW ActiveE field trial is open to customers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Boston, and Connecticut. Feedback from the trial will be used to further refine the upcoming BMW i3 and i8 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.