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PHOTO CAPTION: BMW ActiveE electric car is successor to Mini-E program.

Test Driving BMW's Next Generation Electric Car

Evening test drive at average 49 mph achieved a range of 101 miles with 9 percent of battery charge remaining.

Published: 19-Feb-2012

Falling trees may not make a sound when nobody is there to hear -- but the sound not coming from the BMW ActiveE poses an equally profound riddle. Even in full sprint, the rear-drive coupe has absolutely no exhaust note.

That's because the car doesn't have a tailpipe -- or an engine, for that matter. It's the first 100 percent electric Bimmer, offered to 700 Americans who will help BMW evaluate its electric technology.

I recently spent a week driving one of the first production units around the San Francisco Bay Area, and never stopped marveling at the muted whir, like a jet turbine's, from the 125-kilowatt electric motor. Which poses the question: Is a BMW any less of an ultimate driving machine if it is silent?

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