• Jun 26th 2009 at 12:48PM
  • 10
Historic BMW Electric Vehicles - Click for high-res image gallery

Although the closest thing you can get to an electric car at BMW these days is one with Start & Stop technology, a hybrid (in the near future) or, if you're lucky, the Mini E, BMW has a long history of developing electric cars. For the 1972 Olympic games held in Munich, BMW provided a small fleet of orange-colored BMW 1602 Saloons that used a battery-powered electric motor. The cars didn't have much range, thanks lead-acid technology, a 144 V motor with 32 kw (about 43 hp), but they were good enough to be the support car in the marathon.

Following this, BMW made an all-EV model called the E1 in 1993. This all-electric car offered space for four passengers and their luggage, and used lightweight construction. The body was a combination of extrusion-pressed aluminum profiles with the outer skin made of plastic and aluminum. The E1 concept had a maximum speed of 80 mph and weighed less than 2,000 lbs and used a water-cooled motor. Besides the all-electric car, BMW made a hybrid version of the E1. Its internal combustion engine was a modified version of the 4-cylinder BMW K1100 motorcycle mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. It produced 82 hp at 5800 rpm, and the driver could switch between electric-only propulsion for zero-emission city driving and turning on the ICE on the highway.
We've compiled a large gallery of pictures of these models for your enjoyment. Check it out below.

All BMW EV models throughout history
  • All BMW EV models throughout history
  • All EV BMW 1602
  • All EV BMW 1602
  • All EV BMW 1602
  • All EV BMW 1602
  • All EV BMW 3-series from the early 80s
  • All EV BMW 3-series from the early 80s
  • All EV BMW 3-series from the early 80s
  • The late 80s early 90s 3-series EVs
  • Early 90s 3-series EV
  • Early 90s 3-series EV
  • Early 90s 3-series EV
  • BMW E1
  • BMW E1
  • BMW E1
  • BMW E1
  • BMW E1
  • BMW E1
  • BMW E1's electric motor

[Source: BMW, Conceptcarz]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Germany's big 3 (Mercedes, Audi & BMW) have so far not been too interested in introducing real EVs in their main lineups. They prefer to use sub-brands like Smart and Cooper. It's as if thy are afraid EVs will contaminate their real brand...

      This is very strange since Germany is very green politically. They seem to be content just sitting back and watching the US, Japan & China progressing faster.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Just a quick note about HP: DC motors are rated at the HP they can maintain steady state without overheating. Peak HP is roughly 4x that number, but can only be safely maintained for a minute or so without more aggressive active cooling systems. So that 43 HP is more like 170 HP off the line, and has more than enough power to cruise along at speed. (which generally takes around 12 HP) AC motors are similar, but have slightly different torque curves.

      In any case, the thing to remember is that the HP you see for an electric motor is usually the HP it can deliver all day long under load, whereas the HP you see for an ICE is usually the peak performance under no load and narrow operating conditions.
      • 6 Years Ago
      In 1991 they had an electric car that could do 80mph and had a range of 160 km.

      The battery only lasted 5 years - but who cares, It was probably lead acid so it could be recycled and replaced fairly cheaply - I bet it would cost less than 5 years of filling your tank with gas.

      Eighteen years ago they had a viable electric car, batteries have come a long way since then. When is bmw going to get with the program and actually sell an EV?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think that the German big 3 are right not having an electric car in their main stable. They build performance luxury continent crosser's. For as much as I love BMW I would rather see them go out of business then to have them ruin the roundel and make a production electric car. I love cars like the volt and the roadster and its not that I don't like the environment and all that but I just think some things need to not be messed with
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is why some of us get so frustrated when a automaker announces they are making some limited run EV for fleet testing evaluations. They've been evaluating them since 1972 in BMW's case, what more do they need to evaluate? STOP EVALUATING them already and start selling them.

      Stew
      • 6 Years Ago
      Of course its a pity that BMW never built the E1, i would buy it with its specifications, even nowadays.
      But i think it is a typical german problem, we are always developing great technology, but we are never going to build it.....
      Just take a look on some older projects like the Transrapid which we are developing since the 1970s...

      Mercedes Benz is working on EVs since decades, but they never had had the courage to built these cars...but now since Tesla Motors is going well they want to take part of their success.




      • 6 Years Ago
      The E-1 is great. Like the mini concept without the retro. Retro gets old. I would buy a snappy performing little hybrid E-1 version in two seconds.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I’m driving a MINI E for the next year and had thought this was their first pure electric. Looks that they have been at it for quite a while. I have been pleasantly surprised how good the MINI E has been as a car, not just an electric car. I’m looking forward to a BMW/MINI EV product I can own. I‘m pleased with their commitment to the city / Project i car, and that it will be a small 4 passenger layout. BMW looks to be on the right track.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Two important reasons why they never developed the technology further is 1.Battery power didn't fly with BMW's premium profile (or so they believed) and 2.they've dedicated themselves to development of H2.
      The same, by the way, is true for Mercedes-Benz and in a way for almost all the domestic German automakers.
      I know people won't believe me when I say this, but the German automotive industry is incredibly conservative, more than even GM in the US. We've been consistently late to the party, not because we lack innovation, but because that innovation doesn't make it to the market in time to be relevant.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well, for cryin' out loud, Beemer! That E1 looks great to me. Here's hoping that you'll dust off its blueprints and templates, use the data you're gathering from the MINI Es, and finally start commercializing an E2. 'Bout time, don't y'think?