To emphasize the importance of New York City for BMW, the Munich-based company held its annual press conference for the NYC Auto Show at the factory-owned store in Manhattan. In front of several journalists and media representatives, BMW unveiled their first electric vehicle for the US market: BMW ActiveE.

ActiveE field trials start this fall in New York Metro, Greater Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento and Boston. Seven hundred BMW ActiveE vehicles will be offered through a 24-month lease for $499 per month with a down payment of $2,250. The reservation process will begin in late summer 2011.

Based on the 1 Series Coupe, the BMW ActiveE will accelerate from 0-60 mph in under nine seconds, making it the first electric vehicle to combine the dynamic characteristics typical of a BMW with the zero-emissions benefits of driving an electric vehicle. It will incorporate specially-designed lithium ion batteries which are being used for the first time and that allow for a range of around 100 miles in everyday driving.

The exterior design of the BMW ActiveE is differentiated from the regular 1 Series Coupe by the power dome in the hood which provides space for the batteries located under it.

At the press conference hosted by BMW Manhattan, Rich Steinberg, manager of Electric Vehicle Operations and Strategy, BMW NA said “BMW ActiveE is part of our ongoing strategy to develop environmentally friendly, yet high-performance vehicles. It brings us another step closer to the realization of the BMW i3, which we will launch in 2013.”

Some of the technology featured in the ActiveE will be used in the upcoming electric vehicles developed under the new BMW i sub-brand.

BMW ActiveE uses a powerful electric synchronous motor. Maximum power output of the electric drive system is 170 horsepower while maximum torque of 184 lb-ft is available from a standstill, as is typical of electric vehicles and it remains available across an exceptionally broad load range. Top speed is electronically limited at around 90 mph.

BMWBLOG attended the press launch on Monday and captured exclusively some new photos of the BMW ActiveE.