How to Reserve Your BMW ActiveE All-Electric Coupe

By · January 24, 2012

BMW ActiveE

BMW is now accepting application for 700 ActiveE electric coupes.

German automaker BMW is now officially accepting applications for the electric ActiveE coupe to be leased by 700 drivers in Boston, Hartford, New York, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco.

The hand-raisers, dubbed "Electronauts" by BMW, begin with an online BMW ActiveE reservation form. Then, applicants must complete a charging station consultation conducted by AeroVironment, BMW's electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) service partner in the US. This requires a fee of $100, which can later be credited towards the installation cost. If all goes well, prospective drivers will complete a "closed-end, two-year lease" for the electrified BMW 1 Series. Expect $499 per month, plus $2,250 down. Vehicles will be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Don't expect to be the first ActiveE driver. That honor went two weeks ago to contributor Tom Moloughney. Tom explains where the ActiveE fits into BMW's three-part EV launch process:

“Put a converted MINI in the hands of small groups of people in eight countries around the globe to assess public acceptance, likes and dislikes, begin to understand infrastructure issues, open a dialog with the different utilities, etc. Oh yeah, get those needed CARB credits while there at it. AC Propulsion had a powertrain ready to go and they could have cars rolling off the line in under a year by using them to supply the powertrain so they went with them. BMW knew it would take them a couple years to design and build a powertrain in house and once they did they would, in Step 2, put it in a current platform, a 1 series, and run it for a year to two and work out all the potential bugs before Step 3: Selling an EV, the 2013 BMW i3, which is designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle”

The BMW ActiveE features a 168-horsepower electric motor, weighs in at 4,000 pounds, zips from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 9 seconds, and has a range of approximately 100 miles per charge.

To become an Electronaut, go to


· · 6 years ago

Hmmm. Has 60+ more HP as the Leaf but 0 to 60 accleration is not any better. Must be much heavier but Leaf at around 3500lbs. ???

· goldenfooler (not verified) · 6 years ago

the higher end the car the heavier it will be.
More safety aspects.

· · 6 years ago

The ActiveE is a great EV for people who are looking for a commuter car but don't like this or that about the LEAF. Styling or handling or whatever. Anyone who wants one should sign up right away as they are likely to go fast.

They may end up being the only BMWs ever to be made with a truely classic BMW look as the i3 and the i8 have very futuristic BMW looks.

Personally I like futuristic, but a lot of people like the classic BMW look. Here is your chance.

· · 6 years ago

Red Leaf: It weighs 4,000 lbs! BMW needed to add over 600lbs of steel to reinforce the frame once the removed the ICE powertrain. You can feel the weight but it's really still agile and quick. I've said it feels like driving an electric tank.

This is why BMW won't sell a converted ICE platform in electric trim. The car is pushing around way too much weight to really be efficient. The i3 for example has the exact same powertrain, all of the components in the ActiveE were designed for the i3, and it weighs 1,300lbs less. Same HP, same torque and 1,300lbs less.

· · 6 years ago

"BMW needed to add over 600lbs of steel to reinforce
I suppose the idea of reinforcing with aluminum instead of steel never crossed their minds. The Leaf's battery doesn't even weigh 600 lbs.
This sounds like either incompetence or sabotage.
Sorry Tom, I know you've loved their decoys but I put BMW in the same category with Honda. Foot draggers.

· · 6 years ago

I know where you stand ex, no problem with it. They aren't in Nissan or Tesla's category for sure, but they are way beyond what Honda is giving us. Honda hasn't announced any concrete plans to sell an EV in any real numbers. BMW is in the second tier though, along with Ford in my opinion, but definitely way above Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo and VW.

· · 6 years ago

It would be interesting to know how many ActiveE lessees are prior BMW customers. A high percentage of LEAF drivers are new to the Nissan brand. Will the ActiveE/i3 have the same result for BMW?

· · 6 years ago

" . . . they are way beyond what Honda is giving us."
Actually, I believe that, to date, Honda has crushed more EVs than BMW has made.
I put Ford way ahead of BMW. Ford at least makes a lot of very good hybrids that they sell, they didn't crush many cars in the '90's at all, and they've sold infinitely more EVs than BMW (Rangers, Transit Connect, Thinks).

· · 6 years ago

Don't forget step 0, approaching the boss for the pay raise you know you deserve. :D

· · 6 years ago

Is there an option to buy? Granted, with only 700 cars that wouldn't mean much for air pollution, but I'm sure the person making the payments would appreciate not losing all their money. Even if I were a BMW fan, well, I am a Honda fan or was. Even being a Honda fan, tossing all those payments down the drain makes the can-buy cars like Leafs/Tesla's look pretty attractive. You don't have to be a huge Nissan fan to appreciate that $11k going towards a car purchase versus a car preview.

That said, it's a good thing BMW is working on EVs. There are lots of BMW drivers, and it'll probably meet other higher end drivers needs as well.

· Frank J Perruccio (not verified) · 6 years ago

While I'm glad to see more EVs being worked on, these half hearted efforts only make Tesla's Model S look more attractive.

It's understandable that many manufacturers want to get at least some skin in the EV game before it's too late, but the engineering shortcomings don't impress.

The smart manufacturers are letting Tesla supply them with the best drive trains available. Tesla, Toyota, Mercedes are going to be the leaders out of the gate.

· · 6 years ago

If you put $11k into a company to test their car for them, you're essentially placing a stake of your money in the company. Typically a person with a stake in a company is a 'share holder'. So why isn't BMW/Honda giving out these test cars to people who buy $11k shares? As it is now, the company gets all the return from the customer's investment while the customer takes all the risk of driving an experimental car for 2 years + a guaranteed $11k kick in the rear when it's over. What a deal right? :D

· · 6 years ago

Actually it's $14,250, not 11k and for me it's really a great deal. There aren't any electric cars available here in NJ that are currently offered that can come close to it. The only EV I can currently buy or lease is a LEAF and the LEAFs range isn't sufficient for my high mileage driving (over 30,000 miles per year and a daily average of about 85 miles) Plus it charges way to slow for me to be able to drive it 70 or 80 miles, plug in for 2 hours and drive another 50 miles or so like I can with the ActiveE.

I'll hand it back with 60,000+ miles on it and with no regard for the condition it's in. I don't have to worry if the tires are bald or if the leather gets accidentally ripped or if there are dings or scratches. Lets say you buy an EV now like a LEAF or a Focus and drive it 60,000+ miles in two years. What do you think you can sell it for then? I bet it would depreciate about as much as I paid to lease a car that is much better appointed(leather int, nav, BMW connect w/internet access, Bluetooth, Sirius, Charge Point membership) with a longer range and a free AeroVironment EVSE installed in my home. If I leased a LEAF or Focus, I'd get killed with the mileage penalty anyway.
For me it's a great deal and really my ONLY EV option today. If the Model S with 160 mile battery was available then I'd really have to look long and hard at that. I've already went to see it twice and really love it. I can definitely see getting one of them in the future, but that won't be available for at least a year and they'll be a lot to consider when this 24 month lease is up. The Model S is right at the top of the consideration list though at this moment.

· · 6 years ago

It is really difficult for the car companies to commit. The amount of investment to build a car from the ground up is huge. So it is easier to retro-fit manually something you already have to experiment. BMW is just waking up to the fact that EV is real and worried about being left on the side line.

Tesla keeps being mentioned along with Nissan/Leaf which bothers me. Where is the S model? Have they actually launched it? Can I really go buy one? Do they have a dealer network? How good are they at building an actual car? Do they have good quality? I could go on.

· goldenfooler (not verified) · 6 years ago

I don't think teslas buisness model is for you to go and see one. The most likely don't want any extra hanging around for you to go pick up.
Its more of a I ordered this car and this car is mine how I want it.
Specialization is a selling point.

· · 6 years ago

Tom: Yeah, that's a good point. Leaf's 220v charge time won't stack up to BMW or Fit EV until 2013. Plus the depreciation is about even with the lease loss. It's a bummer that you don't get to have your way with the test car after the test though. I remember when I beta tested Windows 98 SE for Microsoft, they gave me a free copy of the gold edition when it was out. Sure the CD was only 20 cents, but in BMW/Honda's case they're going to pay to shred the car anyway. Really it's doing them a favor. hehe :)

Red Leaf: Sorry, how quickly I forgot my family's yellow '85 Nissan regular cab pickup, that had 200k miles on it. Only when Tesla scores that many miles on a Roadstar/Model S shall I mention it in the same sentence as Nissan. :D

· · 6 years ago

Actually in fairness, the Nissan pickup only needed a $300 clutch replacement at 200k miles. Perhaps it's still driving around in Mexico today.

· · 6 years ago

@Tom, "I'll hand it back with 60,000+ miles on it and with no regard for the condition it's in. I don't have to worry if the tires are bald or if the leather gets accidentally ripped or if there are dings or scratches."

This must be some lease! So there is no annual mileage limit, and no return conditions?

· SVL (not verified) · 6 years ago

If only I had some place to put my charger :(

· · 6 years ago

Michael: No, there is no mileage limit which is great for me because I drive 30k per year. There is an "excessive" wear and tear clause in the lease but that is really only for the people that purposefully abused the cars. The MINI-E lease didn't have that, and a few people really took advantage and basically destroyed the cars because they weren't liable. Their cars looked like they auto crossed them when they were returned so BMW put in an excessive wear clause, but as long as it doesn't appear to be deliberate misuse then there is no worry.

· · 6 years ago

"This must be some lease!
Remember, BMW has no intention on making any money on these.

· · 6 years ago

You're right on that ex, but the CARB credits they get for them are worth big $$$ so that has to be factored in. Still - you cant make 1,100 cars and make a profit unless you're charging $150,000 + for them.

OT: Talking about supercar money, when I went to get my ActiveE at BMW HQ, they took me inside to the technical area where they are building a whole wing to service their future electrics and had an ActiveE disassembled with all the parts spread out for me to look at. However before getting to this area, we passed a room that had a McLaren with the motor out and on a stand being service and I went in to check it out - really cool.

· jbro (not verified) · 6 years ago

My charger consultation is on the 9th. I went into the local dealer and submitted my credit app and they are bundljng orders. The lease can be tailored for your own needs and it has no mileage restriction. Since I drive 110 miles daily and drive an M3, this is like getting a free car instead of feeding OPEC.

· · 6 years ago

To everyone at BMW USA:
This is the first time in 14 years of being a BMW customer that I write a note to you and I’m doing it simply because I’m extremely dissatisfied with the way BMW USA and the Active E car allocation process has been managed.  It was almost a year ago that I learned about the Active E car and as soon as you opened the preregistration process, I completed the online form.  Unfortunately, the lack of communication between your company and your customers has been inexcusable and to some extent insulting.  From the time I registered in your Active E website to the time I got the letter below, it has been a guessing game with very little information received from anyone, including from your Stevens Creek, Santa Clara, CA BMW Dealer (no blame on them, because they as lost as we are).  I can’t even count the number of emails and calls I made to BMW in the past few months, including to your AeroVironment charging station consultation partner to find out if they had any updates or if anything else was needed to expedite the process. Everyone I talked to told me the same thing: “We have very little information from BMW North America and we cannot help you at this time”. 

I really thought that by acting quickly in the pre-registration process and by completing all the steps required, I was going to get one of the Active E cars, but I only got a note that reads: “BMW Electronaut Recruitment: You've been placed on the West Coast waiting list”, with no further details about what this means, where in the waiting list I’m in, for how long I need to wait, or what criteria was used to determine the car allocation.

My current car leasing is coming to an end in a couple of months (April, 2012) and for the first time in 14 years, me and my family are saying goodbye to the BMW brand.  I feel that your company was not very straight forward with us when advertising the Active E car and the lack of customer care that your company has demonstrated throughout this process has hugely impacted my perception of BMW  With that said and until you fix this mess; I’m taking my business elsewhere.

· · 6 years ago

I assume you've visited Tesla at Santana Row and in Menlo Park? Also, I highly recommend you seriously look at the Leaf and Volt. The Tesla isn't going to help your need to get a new car in time but Leafs and Volts are available almost immediately if you look carefully. Both have similar handling to BMWs even though the other cars in their brands generally aren't known for good handling. Go for a test-drive.
BMW isn't really interesting in selling EVs. They only plan to make a few cars to keep the CA regulators happy.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.