BMW's forays into the electric car world are well-known, particularly the MINI E, which is currently being leased to select private citizens in key U.S. markets. The next BMW EV to be leased on a limited basis is the 1-Series-based ActiveE, shown off at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show.

The ActiveE will follow a similar program to the MINI E lease, though it's not yet known exactly how many cars will be involved in the program. BMW currently has 450 MINI E EVs in the hands of avid fans, selected from the more than 1,800 people who signed up to participate in the program.

Drivers for the MINI E were selected based on their driving habits and location. Those that need to travel more than 200 miles daily, for instance, were taken out of the running as that's beyond the MINI E's capability at this point.

The ActiveE is similarly limited, with about a 100-mile range. The lease program for the ActiveE is scheduled to start sometime in 2011, and it's being staged as a precursor to a retail plug-in electric, due before 2015. Given the fierce interest in the MINI E program, however, there's sure to be no shortage of applicants for the new ActiveE test.

With a 170-horsepower electric motor driving the rear axle, the ActiveE is a fairly punchy EV, though not quite as rapid as the 204-horsepower MINI E. The ActiveE is rated at 8.5 seconds 0-60 mph with a 90 mph top speed. The lithium-ion battery pack takes about 4.5 hours to charge fully, and the system uses regenerative braking much like the MINI E to help extend its range. Unlike the MINI E, passenger and cargo space isn't as heavily affected by the battery pack, however, with the 1-Series-based body still capable of transporting four people and up to 7 cubic feet of cargo.

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