As someone who has held onto a non-running, non-rare car for more than a decade in the hopes of one day “making it right”, I know a thing or two about emotional attachment to automobiles. While I understand a truck full of crushed BMW ActiveE electric cars might upset many former owners, this is the unfortunate nature of the auto industry.
The fact of the matter is, the BMW ActiveE project was always meant to be a limited-lifespan test for the purpose of gathering data on how EV owners use their vehicles. It’s at least the second such test by BMW, which also launched the MINI-E project to test how drivers adapted to the EV lifestyle. But because they were imported to the U.S. as “pre-production” cars, they couldn’t actually be sold, only leased or used for carsharing purposes.
It simply isn’t an option to sell the vehicles back to the lessees, and BMW can’t just have them hanging around some parking lot somewhere, as there are an estimated 700 ActiveE sedans out there. That many cars takes up a whole lotta space, and even if they could be sold to the “Electronauts”, there is no support system in place when eventually parts need replacing.
Not all the cars are heading to the crusher though. About 80 Active E EVs were sent ti BMW’s DriveNow carsharing fleet in San Francisco, bringing the total to about 150 EVs, but most are heading to the crusher. The lithium-ion batteries will be saved and repurposed for the Battery Second Life research projects, and could serve as solar power storage systems or battery backups for computer servers. The test data also seems to have helped with the design of the BMW i3 and i8, both of which are in high demand.
As for these crushed tester cars? They deserve a salute and a thank you as they go on to a second life of their own.