BMW tests e-car long-term behaviour with commuters

January 15, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In a joint research project with the Chemnitz Technical University and the City of Leipzig's public utility company, carmaker BMW plans to get granular on how electric vehicles prove themselves in the day-to-day use when the driving range is almost exhausted. For the test, the partners are searching for commuters who drive at least 90 km per day.

The trial is designed to be a building block for the comprehensive introduction of electromobility. "In order to achieve a breakthrough for electric driving, we need to reach the people outside of the large metropolitan areas", said Stanislaw Tillich, prime minister of the state of Saxony which supports the trial. "And in order to reach these people, we need working solutions for long-range electromobility".

Besides range, the recuperation behaviour of the vehicles is subject of the trial. During recuperation, the driving engine is converted into a generator - as soon as the driver takes the foot off the throttle, the vehicles' kinetic energy is used to generate electric energy which in turn is fed into the driving battery. By means of a switch at the dashboard, drivers can select the recuperation intensity, enabling them to match the recuperation dynamics to the driving situation.

While the Chemnitz Technical University is responsible for the scientific accompanying research, the Leipzig public utility company is involved to provide a charging infrastructure available to the public and to conduct the maintenance for this infrastructure.

"In the year ahead, we will focus entirely on electromobility", said Julian Weber who oversees BMW's electromobility innovation projects. He added that against the end of 2013, BMW plans to start serial production and sales of its first purely electric car, the i3. Its battery and control electronics will largely resemble devices used in BMWs current ActiveE research vehicle. "The results of the user study will help us to improve these components", Weber said.

The trial will be conducted in the German states of Bavaria and Saxony in 2014. It will consist of five phases with 15 users each. They will get a BMW ActiveE electric vehicle for twelve weeks respectively for the trial. Currently BMW is searching for private persons interested in participating in the trial. More information can be found on