Exclusive: BMW Provides Official Statement On Crushing Of ActiveEs


There’s been much speculation after a recent sighting of 16 crushed BMW ActiveEs.  Some have even begun to link BMW to General Motors’ crushing of the EV1.

Here at InsideEVs, we knew the crushing of the BMW ActiveEs was inevitable as a clearly defined test fleet, so rather than attempting to sensationalize a non-event, we decided to take the professional approach of contacting BMW for direct comment on the matter.

David Buchko, head of BMW product and technology communications, fielded our question with this response that should put to rest all the speculation and finger pointing:

“Anyone who has watched BMW’s ongoing development in the electric vehicle space and observed our investment in BMW i, has seen clear evidence of the company’s commitment to sustainable mobility.”

“BMW has always been clear that the ActiveEs were prototype vehicles and that the program would have a limited timeframe, which is now drawing to a close. Our time with the ActiveE & our Electronauts has been a great learning experience which has prepared us well for the arrival of the BMW i3 electric vehicle which is now in US showrooms at authorized BMW i Centers. As enthusiasts, we understand and appreciate the emotional connection that individuals can make with their cars. The enthusiasm that the Electronauts brought to the BMW ActiveE test program was truly remarkable.”

“The learning begun with the ActiveE will transition to the next phase with all of the lithium-ion batteries being repurposed for Battery Second Life research projects.”

“As prototypes, the BMW ActiveEs may not be resold. Based on increasing demand, the most well cared for cars have been deployed to bolster the fleet of Drive Now, BMW’s car sharing service in the San Francisco Bay Area, for a limited period. The total number of BMW ActiveEs in the Drive Now Fleet totals 150. Some have also been returned to Munich for additional research markets.”

“Legal requirements make it impossible to keep these cars on the road in the US indefinitely. Recycling of the vehicles locally is the most sustainably responsible means of handling the cars that are being taken out of service.”

BMW ActiveE electric vehicle that is offered in DriveNow, BMW's car sharing program in San Francisco

BMW ActiveEs Offered In DriveNow

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41 Comments on "Exclusive: BMW Provides Official Statement On Crushing Of ActiveEs"

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Only because the lease ended and the cars got back to BWM is no excuse to destroy them. They were in perfect technical conditions, 100% working and could have used as BWM internal company cars for many more years.
This is simply destroying shareholders money.

The vast majority of the necessary parts were harvested so that the DriveNow fleet can stay in service for sometime. This, in turn, makes the crush ActiveEs useless, as they aren’t driveable vehicles.

Yes, additionally, the drivetrain components and bits are not compatible with the BMW i3. They were all based on an earlier design. Most of them were hand-built or manufactured in an extremely small volume. The ActiveE itself had a 5,000-mile service interval, and being a test vehicle, it required a lot of attention and maintenance. These are not the best attributes and factors when deciding the long-term fate of the fleet. Although my vehicle is one of the more extreme examples, it must have cost BMW an estimated $200K to $300K to keep it on the road for 27 months and 40,000 miles. Several expensive components had to be replaced multiple times. That said, instead of leaving the program, which might have been understandable, I tried to do my part too. I engaged more actively, and was as accommodating as reasonably possible. Interestingly, other Electronauts adopted a similar mindset. Overall, I think that the ActiveE field trial was a very unique and rewarding experience. Ultimately, I think what we all hoped for was the technological and commercial success of the i3. That’s all that really matters, and many Pioneers and Electronauts take pride in having been able to contribute to… Read more »

Test fleets are always destroyed after the tests are concluded, no matter if the vehicles are ICE or electrically driven. Such vehicles are only validated for test fleet conditions. The product liability risk of keeping them running disconnected from the OEMs control is much too high.

Yes, the decommissioning is all about risk and liability mitigation. It’s akin to destroying a questionable food source instead of exposing consumers to a health risk.

The i3, should have been the cheap “Test Car”, now ready for crushing, and the
1 series coupe with it’s larger battery, should have been it’s successor.
The Active-E is so much more car, with more range, what a shame !!

Surprise Cat —

BMW can’t legally just take a test fleet car, and convert it into an internal company car. That would violate the “reasonableness in scope” requirement of section 3 the test fleet regulations:

§ 85.1705 Testing exemption.
(a) Any person requesting a testing exemption must demonstrate the following:
(1) That the proposed test program has a purpose which constitutes an appropriate basis for an exemption in accordance with section 203(b)(1);
(2) That the proposed test program necessitates the granting of an exemption;
(3) That the proposed test program exhibits reasonableness in scope; and
(4) That the proposed test program exhibits a degree of control consonant with the purpose of the program and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (hereafter EPA) monitoring requirements.

Frankly, I think BMW has majorly pulled some strings to manage to get as many ActiveE’s into the Drive Now Fleet as they did. That move was quite remarkable, considering it was such a huge departure from the original test fleet’s defined program, and BMW would have had to define before the test leases even began “(5) The intended final disposition of the vehicles or engines;”.

Seems like a junk yard would have been able to part-out these cars and make better use of the body panels and other components for ICE BMW 1-series.

Crushing is not very eco.

This isn’t my area of expertise, so I might be wrong here, but the response says “Recycling of the vehicles locally”.

I take this to mean that after they were crushed, they were being transported to be recycled. It seems they stripped out everything that could be reused.

It is definitely a sad picture to see, but this is unfortunately part of the development process. Unlike GM in the 90’s, BMW used the research to create a commercial vehicle. They also seem to have a plan to use the technology, in various forms, across their vehicle line (i.e. Plug-In X5 and other rumored i vehicles).

John — The problem is that by law, not even the parts off of test fleets can be resold in the open market. This is to keep cars from being sold as “parts” that are then rebuilt back into complete cars again, and put back on the roads. This is one of the trade-offs that comes with test fleets not being required to be crash tested or EPA tested. Crash testing cars destroys a lot of cars too, just like crushing test fleets. It is a fact of life. If you think that is a waste, goto a Military auction, and see military spec Humvee’s where the major components have to be permanently disabled as a condition of sale as scrap. It is painful to watch, but these vehicles do not meet DOT testing specifications. Neither do any of these ActiveE’s, so they must be crushed. These are the rules. The same goes for recalled products. I was at a junkyard that had a huge stack of recalled bicycles marked with a sign “do not part”. They were mid to low end bikes, but some stuff was worth taking, so I asked about them. They said that because the bikes… Read more »

This is one of the sorts of things the average person who doesn’t work in the automotive industry is blissfully unaware of, and also one of the reasons that “start-ups” fail to emerge as viable car companies. Learning more about these apparently illogical at first glance but ultimately necessary steps makes the story of Tesla’s success even more impressive.

Crushing vehicles you’re not going to support is just standard procedure. However, the narrative seems to be:

GM crushes EV1 = Horrible Unforgivable Act
BMW crushes Active E = No Big Deal

The truth is

GM crushes EV1, doesn’t make any more EVs for years, sells off NiMH patents to an oil company that prevents others from making EVs for a number of years = Horrible Unforgivable Act
BMW crushes Active E after spending Billions on a new line of EVs = No Big Deal

The EV1 was not a test vehicle, and GM stopped working on electric vehicles after the decision to decommission the EV1 fleet was made. That’s a very different context to the ActiveE, which was designed specifically as a test bed for i3 drivetrain components. The i3 being a multi-billion effort on the part of BMW to enter the electric vehicle market.


You are oversimplifying the situation. GM just crushed the EV1s. BMW pulled out the batteries and put them to use. BMW pulled out the EV electronics and will use them as spart parts for the ActiveEs in the DriveNow program. That is a big difference.

That was a nice statement. If the batteries are being repurposed and the electronics being pulled out to be used as spare parts for the EVs in that DriveNow program, I’m fine with this.

Yeah, they knew there would be the “GM PR Curse” they’d have to deal with, if they didn’t try to deal with decommissioning these test EVs in a more open, sensitive and responsible manner.

A guy in my neighborhood still has his ActiveE.

But probably not for much longer…

We’ll soon be seeing pictures of crushed Honda Fit EVs too.

PLEASE!! I still have two years remaining on my lease.

And then I will deal with the difficult task of returning this very nice EV back to Honda… to be crushed!


I went to sign up for the program so I could drive an ActiveE around SF. And then I realized the rate was effectively $460 to rent it for 24 hours! WTF?

$12 for first 30 minutes and 32 cents PER MINUTE after that.

Looks like you may be able to get a crushed one for a bargain…

The 24 hour rate is $90 but they frequently have $60 specials. I was out in the Bay area recently and used it for 24 hours and was charges $60. Everything worked perfectly and it was easy to pick up and drop off at SFO.

Ah . . . OK, there it is.


$12 for the first 30 minutes. $0.32 cents for each additional minute of driving. Free parking and charging at any DriveNow station. No annual fee. No monthly fee. No insurance needed.

for first 30 minutes of driving the BMW Active E.

for each additional minute.

$60 per 24 hrs**
**For a limited time, applied automatically. Normally $90.

It is a strange pricing system. If you rent it for more than 3 hours, you might as well keep it for the rest of the day.

Yes, that’s true. The DriveNow program and its pricing originated in Germany, where the vehicles are often taken on short one-way trips. It can be cheaper to pay for 15 or 30 minutes, and then park the vehicle. The rate goes down then, and one can keep the r reservation open that way. If that was not convenient or economical, it’s possible to terminate on arrival. One-way rentals are explicitly allowed.

One-way car sharing – you need to think of this as an alternative to a taxi, not as an alternative to renting a car. How much would Hertz charge you to rent a car if you only needed it for 30 minutes?

When BMW started the program with the mini-e and I was a little negative about it. My thoughts were: Why study it to death. You are dragging your feet on purpose BMW, just build the frickin’ car already…..but now I see it was worth while.

Thanks to people like Lyle Dennis and Tom M. our electric future is becoming a reality.

Thanks George but please don’t try to give me, Lyle or anybody that much credit. I think the support of the entire plug-in community has been instrumental in pushing the automakers. That and Tesla saying “If you don’t want to build EV’s we will!”

I’m surprised that they studied it so much and STILL managed to make some mistakes. (The polarizing design, the lack of a larger battery option, a $4K range-extender with a 1.9 gallon tank, etc.)

That is my impression, as well, however…

You’ll find that their research (and perhaps some regulatory loopholes) resulted in the i3. I doubt that most of these things were considered mistakes by BMW leadership.

Dennis Miles (EVprofessor)

So 1.9 gallons or 10 liters, you can not find an electrical outlet within about 75 miles or 100 Km. ? or do you object to it being a range extender and not a fool hybrid…

“all of the lithium-ion batteries being repurposed”

This 16 must die, so that others shall live…

Could have been a political/image problem, but they’ve handled it well. They have been open and transparent about it, plus the fleet reuse and battery reuse positions are brilliant PR moves.

BMWs commercial commitment to the Electrification Cause is clear, so no need to carry any of the crushed EV-1 stigma. This topic can be put to bed.

Let’s face it folks, BMW was dragged kicking and screaming into the plugin car arena by California. They made the smallest effort possible to comply with the law by converting a few Mini Coopers to electric with no dealership support or involvement. Then they slightly expanded on that program and once again asked their customers to pay a high price for a compliance car that they will one day destroy. The ActiveE. BMW turned a deaf ear to the decades of experience offered by plugin car enthusiast and advocacy groups. They were rude and obnoxious. Their know it all stance was obvious and resulted in a poor deployment of those programs and poor customer service. They had a lot to learn about home charging that had been ironed out for a long time by plugin car users and other OEMs. The MiniE and the ActiveE severed BMW well. It lowered their cost in non-compliance fines during the time it needed to see IF they really needed to make a production plugin car or was the law going to change or was there another option. Yes, I think the i3 is a great car. We all know that the automakers can… Read more »
Jeff, with all due respect to you, your efforts and dedication, this is unfortunately not entirety correct. BMW is not required with the ZEV mandate until 2015. So in that sense, both the MINI-E and the ActiveE were honest and voluntary efforts to learn more about the plugin vehicle space. They were not government-forced programs or strict compliance vehicles. The i3 is another honest effort to market a plugin vehicle, but this time in much larger volume. Yes, ZEV mandate compliance looms next year, but it could have been addressed in a different and possibly also less expensive way. I think we all tend to project our own experience and thinking onto others. While I respect your opinion, I disagree with the rationalization you offered. While the i3 won’t appeal to everyone, and there are buyers who prefer a different brand and a different ownership experience, ultimately it’s all about having more choices on the plugin vehicle market. BMW is obviously serious about electrifying their fleet. While nobody is able to make perfect decisions all the time, and mistakes will be made, let’s not automatically assume malice. Let’s wish BMW and the other automakers in this space well. Ultimately, cinoetuition… Read more »
Yes. BMW sales were not big enough at the time to have to comply with the ZEV mandate. But It was looming if their sales increase some in CA, as they hoped they would. BMW knew that one they would have to comply. I still maintain that BMW would have continued to make the bigger and bigger displacement gas engine cars they were making if not for the CA ZEV Mandate. Before the law they had NO interest in making a plugin electric car on their own. Let’s not revise history. BMW personnel were personally rude and obnoxious to me and other plugin America members. It was shocking. They hated me for asking about the $7500 tax credit and if they were going to pass that on to us customers. They were too embarrassed to give the true answer. Plugin America was responsible for getting the $7500 Fed tax credit passed and now BMW would benefit from that credit as the lessor and car owner. They never considered passing on any of that incentive meant for customers by it’s authors. Now they all do it. Thanks BMW. I think the i3 is a great driving car and I’m glad that… Read more »

BMW does need to get the SAE combo plugs at local dealers and in our communities.

Here’s to hoping they will share their dealer level two plugs as well on Plugshare!