New cars come with a set of promises from maker to the owner that the darn things will not fall apart in a way that could kill you for at least a decade. Despite the occasional outburst of broken vows, automakers tend to take this seriously, not just because it's law. But those promises can result in some odd choices, which is how a flatbed trailer came to be filled with crushed cars that were once low-mileage BMW electric vehicles.
In 2010, BMW launched a test program with great fanfare to study EV vehicles and their drivers' habits, using Minis and BMW 1-Series coupes converted to run on electricity. Some 700 ActiveE cars were leased around the United States to select owners — BMW dubbed them "electronauts" — to drive and report back to BMW before the company launched its own production electric vehicles this year, the i3 and i8.
With the production models in hand, BMW took back the ActiveEs, and announced it would give 70 to a car-sharing service in California. But the fate of the rest were unclear — until someone spotted the crushed and disabled trailer of ActiveEs and posted the photo to Facebook, a move reminiscent of General Motors decision to call back and crush every EV1 on the road.
As TransportEvolved reported, even though the Electronauts were first in line for new i3 and i8, some felt misty that BMW couldn't find a home for more of the cars. Since all of the ActiveEs were imported into the United States as "pre-production" cars, there's no way for BMW to certify them in a way that makes it legal to sell them publicly; the only way to keep them on the road is either through car sharing or re-leasing them. Otherwise, the only environmental action left for the ActiveEs is recycling.