The BMW ActiveE is the first real-world product of Project i that wears a roundel.And who better to give us an introduction of the car at Geneva than Rich Steinberg, BMW of North America’s Manager of Electric Vehicle Operations and Strategy.

First the look. As with the MINI E, the BMW ActiveE will have some exterior graphics and design elements that will distinguish it for a standard 1 Series Coupe. The interior will also be distinguished with displays specific to EV applications. Here Rich describes the newly developed electric motor and battery cell technology that differentiate it from the MINI E. As BMW announced more than a year ago, the batteries in the BMW ActiveE will feature liquid heating and cooling so that the batteries would be at optimal operating temperature in order to maximize driving range in either hot or cold ambient conditions. As the BMW Group identified through the MINI E field trial as early 2009, temperature extremes can significantly impact the potential driving range of a drivetrain which uses lithium-ion cell technology.

Beginning in Fall 2011, the BMW ActiveE will be available for lease in limited number in the California markets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento. It will be available in the Northeast in the New York metro market including parts of New Jersey and the state of Connecticut as well as metropolitan Boston.

The BMW iBrand

As a bit of a bonus Rich also gives us an overview of BMWi. If anyone doubts that BMW intends to bring the i3 and i8 to the US market, just ask yourself why someone at BMWNA is narrating this video.