BMW Made its First Electric Car in 1972

Date Published: October 14, 2020

In 1972, BMW took its first major step into the world of electric cars by introducing the 1602e. It took about 40 years for BMW to produce a fully functional electric car. Here is BMW’s electric car journey.

First BMW electric car was built 48 years ago

BMW 1602e

The BMW 1602e paved the way for the likes of the i3 and the i8. The 1602e was shown off in Munich where the car was used to lead long-distance runners at the 1972 Olympics.

Here are some of the interesting facts about the 1602

  • 12 normal 12V car batteries in, but they were all combined to function as a single, massive cell. Put together, the batteries weighed 771 lbs. 
  • The batteries used were lead-acid type batteries. The lightweight lithium-Ion battery technology that is used a lot today was not available back then.
  • The batteries were combined with an electric motor from Bosch. However, the car only had a limited range of just 37 miles.
  • Only two secret prototypes were built.
  • The 1602 had no means of charging, so the batteries needed to be switched out to keep running. 

Does BMW have a fully electric car?

The BMW i3 is BMW’s first fully electric car. Even though this was BMW’s first fully electric car. It certainly was not the first attempt. Here is a list of BMW electric cars the came before the success of the i3:

  • BMW 1602 (1972)
  • BMW LS Electric (1975)
  • The BMW LS Electric had a plug to charge. This model took 14 hours to charge and could only go 19 miles on a single charge.
  • BMW 323xi (1987)
  • The electric 325xi was able to go 93 miles on one charge.
  • BMW E1 (1991)
  • The BMW E1 was able to go 100 miles on a single charge. However, because of cost issues, the E1 project was scrapped. The E1 used an aluminum shell and plastic body panels, making it the true predecessor to the i3.

When did BMW build an all electric concept vehicle?

The 1991 BMW E1 is known as the predecessor of the BMW i3. Even though the E1 was scrapped, it was BMW’s first purpose-built all electric car.

Author: Omega Fumba