By on May 23, 2014

CrushedRecalling the fateful end of GM’s EV1 program, BMW has decided to crush a number of their 1-Series based Active E after the pilot program finished.

The 1,110 Active E units were leased to customers as a means of vetting electric drivetrain technology in advance of the i3 and i8. Due to the nature of the lease program, crushing the cars at the end of their lifespan is standard operating procedure.

Despite the many conspiracy theories and complex explanations for the crushing of EVs, Occam’s Razor can often be applied to these situations: OEMs (in this case, BMW and GM) do not want to be on the hook for replacement parts and servicing obligations, which, by law, can last for over a decade after the end of the vehicle’s production.

Creating a parts and service network for such a small-volume vehicle is prohibitively expensive, and often times, taking back the cars and crushing them is a more economical alternative. Of course, there’s also the potential for the technology to fall into the hands of a competitor, which could be another unfavorable outcome that the OEM wants to avoid, but that’s a smaller concern.

Fortunately, the Active E will live on. Jalopnik reports that a number of units will be put to work as part of a Bay Area car-sharing service. And of course, there’s the all new EVs being introduced by BMW in the near future. Not a bad tradeoff.

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32 Comments on “BMW Crushes ActiveE Units En Masse...”


  • avatar
    redmondjp

    It’s ironic that they are purposely destroying usable cars that are supposed to be helping the environment – the EV community would have gladly signed waivers and purchased these, much like so many former EV1 drivers would have as well . . .

    And why are they crushing them? Wouldn’t it be far better to dismantle them?

    • 0 avatar

      Think of what BMW is doing as what tech-savvy people do to their old drives once replaced, which is to not only scrub the data off the drive, but then to physically smash the thing apart, drill holes, anything to permanently render the hard drive useless.

      Those smashed Active Es are BMW’s retired hard drives, and the crusher is the sledgehammer ready to render all dead forever.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        BMW’s actions make a lot more sense when you put it that way, because this is exactly what I do when I discard a hard-disk drive. However, what GM did with the EV1 program was just cruel.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        I work with E-Waste in my career. A majority of people just want their data removed. We wipe to DoD standards, and they’re happy.

        I think using some for Ride Sharing is a good idea. Instead of crushing them, do something with them.

    • 0 avatar
      namesakeone

      The problem is simple: They probably cannot produce a waiver that can protect them forever from any possible liability if something in this (as of yet unproven) technology goes wrong. And taking these cars out of the equation is a lot cheaper than the liability insurance (or the liability itself) if something goes wrong down the line. That, and the added cost of producing parts for these cars for x-number of years makes destroying them the only viable alternative.

      • 0 avatar
        RollaRider10

        Surely they could have parted the bodies out for panels and the interior and sold them to smash repairers as used parts and just destroyed the drivetrain.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That’s exactly right. There’s a myth that you can subject someone to whatever unfair terms you wish as long as he/she agrees to them with a signature. And that’s pretty true in some areas (loan interest). But as an automaker, there are certain liabilities that BMW can’t exonerate itself from just because some “uninformed” customers sign a waiver or disclaimer. As Ms. Miquelon stated—and unlike GM—these 1-Series ActiveE units were literally rolling prototypes, so they may not have been engineered for longevity. If 60,000 miles in, people’s batteries start smoldering and setting their garages alight—and fires are a significant danger in some of these newer Bimmers—I doubt BMW would be able to escape some serious legal trouble.

        I seem to remember there also being some MINI electric models, probably running a reconfigured version of the same powertrain. Will they also see the crusher?

        • 0 avatar
          Vega

          ‘and fires are a significant danger in some of these newer Bimmers’ Never heard of that before.

        • 0 avatar
          niky

          I’d say, given GM had to change batteries and reprogram the drivetrains of the first-generation EV1s a few times during the term of the lease (and there was an ugly period when they were stuck too long waiting for a fix), that the EV1 was much in the same boat… prototypes.

          Also, yup, *CANNOT*, under law, sign away your legal rights. Even if you sign a waiver, you can still turn around and sue a company for selling you a ticking timebomb that’s a danger to yourself and the public. Waivers to the effect that you will not hold a company liable for product defects and death and dismemberment due to such defects don’t often hold up in court.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “And why are they crushing them? Wouldn’t it be far better to dismantle them?”

      This is the result of a highly litigious society.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        If you need a replacement fender for your conventional gas-engine 1-series (which uses the same bodyshell), what would you pay for a brand-new never-seen-use fender, versus one that has come off a used car? Double, triple would be pretty normal.

        And what’s it cost BMW to stamp out that new fender that they can then sell for two or three times as much through their usual parts distribution channels versus having to do something special (read: costly) to send used parts through the distribution chain? (Hint: as long as the tooling is still in normal production, it costs trivially next to nothing to send an extra one through and divert it to the parts distribution channel.)

        And what would it cost them to disassemble all those cars for parts, which would have to be done manually because there is no such thing as an automated disassembly line, and then package all the parts to protect them from damage?

        Crrrrunch.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “OEMs (in this case, BMW and GM) do not want to be on the hook for replacement parts and servicing obligations, which, by law, can last for over a decade after the end of the vehicle’s production.”

    I would think that taxation rules would also provide another motivation. I would assume that the automaker can fully depreciate the car by crushing it, which should maximize its recovery on the asset. The cars are surely not profitable, but the crushing should minimize the losses.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      Quite probably true.

      If I knew I could have reliably charged at work (I have an 80 mile round-trip commute), I would have signed up for that: the beta-tester lease deal was $300/month, for an electric BMW prototype!

      Those cars, with the limited production and prototype status, were $60k+ rolling laboratories, and the lease payments would recover less than $10k over the 2 year term.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That is a gross commute. Move closer to work!

        • 0 avatar
          Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

          That’s not uncommon in certain overpriced coastal areas such as NYC metro. I knew folks whose round-trip commutes were well into triple digits back in the 1990s, and I reckon they got absolutely murdered when gas hit $4/gal.

          80mi round trip would be a butt-clencher in a Leaf even with work charging, at least in winter. My 50mi round trip in the Volt is 100% electric for about 45 weeks a year, the other 7 I probably burn a pint of gas a day when it’s cold.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    I love the smell of freshly crushed electric vehicles in the morning.

    The only thing that would make it better is if it were Teslas. They belong there….in the crusher.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I, too, hate smart rich people and their damnable toys.

      Soon as my gout lets me, I’m taking the buckboard to town for some pitchforks, kerosene and white sheets.

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        You use the word “too” like there’s someone else that shares that opinion.

        That’s clearly not the case.

        • 0 avatar
          niky

          The Tesla Roadster was a horribly cobbled together car. The Model S, by all accounts, is an incredible machine. And meets all government regulations and then some. And it’s being sold, instead of leased, to customers… who, despite being owners instead of leasees, actually receive updates and support for free.

          Elon Musk might be a cheeky one, but it’s hard to argue with results.

          • 0 avatar
            Z71_Silvy

            We’ll see if your singing the same tune after Tesla goes bankrupt with their fashion accessories because their business model is complete garbage.

            The entire company is a house of cards.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Oh, all small scale supercar manufacturers have questionable business models… reliant on people being willing to pay much more for a car than it’s actually worth.

            Musk and Tesla have found that extra handle to convince people to separate with their money. Which means they’ve already been around three times as long as the average EV start-up… and they’ve got market capitalization in the tens of billions. It will be quite a while before they fail.

            Even if it folds, that doesn’t mean the cars are worthless. And if it does, it won’t have the money to buy back those cars and crush them. Instead, I expect another manufacturer to pick up Tesla’s assets to continue production and/or research.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve been ripped here for suggesting that Cadillac should do this with the ELR – it’s a program that should be completely unwound.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      I don’t see why, the ELR appears to be a perfectly cromulent car, it’s just $25-30k overpriced. GM’s only got themselves to blame for the embarrassment, and their pride is making it worse. They should just call a “do over” and put $30k on each hood, and reprice for the next model year (if there is one).

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Cutting the price like that will only hurt the ELR’s losses. And if sales accelerate as a result, that makes it worse because GM still has to support these vehicles forever.

        I could see price-cutting if Cadillac was really trying to gain a foothold in the EV market or establish a true halo car, but I think a price-cut campaign would only clear the lots of current inventory without helping the ELR’s image.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Clearly the work of a Big Oil conspiracy. Let the documentary filming begin!

    Who Keeps Killing All Dem Electric Cars!?

  • avatar
    wmba

    Surely this is hardly news. Pre-production vehicles of all types are routinely crushed by all automakers and have been for decades.

    Of course, this is the new age: let’s sit and wonder why, when any decent journalist would just pick up the phone and ask the automakers what their policy is. It’s unlikely to be any big secret.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      True. I thought that even the PRESS FLEETS normally aren’t VINned, or for some other reason cannot be titled for private or fleet on-road use, so usually, those cars are either fed to The Crusher, crash-tested or used in other testing prior to becoming Chinese steel.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      True. I thought that even the PRESS FLEETS normally aren’t VINned, or for some other reason cannot be titled for private or fleet on-road use, so usually, those cars are either fed to The Crusher, crash-tested or used in other testing prior to becoming Chinese steel.

      (And this all may be news to some. And don’t call me “surely!” :-) )

  • avatar
    shaker

    Too bad they didn’t leave the battery packs in the cars before crushing – the resulting conflagrations would have powered right-wing blogs for months.


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