Every now and again, we get reminded that BMW has been working on all-electric powertrains for decades. In 2009, we put together a gallery of some of the automaker's electric prototypes through the years, like the electric 1602 you see above. In a new video, BMW compacts the work it has done on electromobility since the 1970s into a short video, just over a minute long.

It was a struggle to get the 1602 EV to travel the 26 miles it was required to go in the ceremonies for the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. Powered by lead acid batteries and a 32-kW motor, BMW engineers managed to squeeze the distance out of the pack and the electric car served as a support car in the marathon event. In the new video, we also see moving images of 1993's lightweight E1 concept, which had regenerative brakes and room for four. Fast forward to BMW's Active E program and you can see that the future has got a lot of the past in it.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      • 2 Months Ago
      !@#$% double post ^#45
      • 2 Months Ago
      I'm sorry ... but if they have such a vast experience in EVs why have they been selling us ICE cars for all these years? I dare anyone to show me a BMW E1 in the streets, not just a concept or a show car! One has to wonder ... all the car companies all of a sudden claim to be green and they know everything there is to know about electric cars and bla bla bla ... so why aren't the cars in the streets? Why isn't battery technology more advanced now? Why only the telecom companies and computer manufacturers invested in this field and nothing from transportation? Why was the EV1 axed by GM? Oh I know ... because there was no demand ... right ... please stop dumping your marketing BS and just deploy electric cars ... they are not testing cars they are milking the consumer and the environment for all they are worth ...
        DaveMart
        • 2 Months Ago
        You can't railroad until it is time to railroad. The basic technological infrastructure did not exist to build worthwhile cars at any reasonable cost. Lithium battery technology is the obvious one, and it is no more than acceptable even today. On top of that BMW wanted to make the car drive like a BMW, and to do that even with current batteries had to do some serious lightweighting. So they have pushed on to move CRP production on, doing the heavy lifting themselves. They could not have done that in past years though, as the technological base just was not developed enough. They will have their first electric cars in production in around 2013-4. I don't think that is so terrible, although of course Nissan/Renault, Mitsubishi and GM are to be commended.
      Spec
      • 2 Months Ago
      How about you end it with an electric vehicle that you actually sell, BMW? (Not just a limited lease program.)
        DaveMart
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Er, you do know they are, Spec? If you expect German companies to simply plunge in rather than setting things up methodically you don't know the way they work. The i3 will be here soon enough, and will be properly sorted, as will the e-Up from VW, for sale in Yorkshire only, I believe.
      Rotation
      • 2 Months Ago
      Why is it the companies who are doing the least with EVs frequently like to pretend they are doing that most? BMW's vehicle is an outsourced, not-for-sale conversion. They're stuck before the EV1/Honda EV days.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        Uh? They have invested hundreds of millions at least in being the first to set up carbon fibre production for mass use in cars, with the production facilities in three continents, and are tooling up to produce the i3 which should be among the longest range BEVs, with fairly reasonable, for BMW, prices. They are also building the hybrid i8 and indicate that these are the leaders in a whole raft of hybrid and electric vehicles. They may not be as far along as Nissan and Mitsubishi, and arguably GM, but they have made a very major commitment indeed and deserve to be classed as one of the leaders. People who are leasing the present Active-e love it, and with a 30% weight reduction in the i3 it should be an awesome drive.
          Rotation
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          I've seen the Active-E, it's ugly. And again, it's not for sale nor is it even purpose-built. You have to walk all the way around the car to the opposite corner of the car from the drivers door to plug in the charger port. BMW needs to take action, not talk. The i3 is a future product, not a current one.
        PR
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        Rotation You are stuck in 2008 thinking, back when BMW was first announcing the Mini-E and they didn't have a clear path forward. Four years later, BMW is positioning themselves with the i3 to be a serious EV market leader next year. With a clear path forward, and a very sweet i3 very much in the pipeline, the BMW bashing is now out-of-date and no longer justified.
          Joona
          • 2 Months Ago
          @PR
          Yes, BMW is investing for couple of years. Problem with THIS VIDEO and massage is not that part. It is interesting from BMW to say that they have been developing this tech for decades. Why outsource conversions in the first place (2008), if they had so much competence and commitment, like they DO say with this video? It is marketing bulls**t. That part is the problem.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        BMW carbon fibre production facilities: http://www.bmwgroup.com/e/nav/index.html?http://www.bmwgroup.com/e/0_0_www_bmwgroup_com/investor_relations/corporate_news/news/2010/Carbonfaserwerk_April_2010.html The raw materials are produced in Japan and then sent to NA. And the i3: http://www.plugincars.com/bmw-holds-electric-car-sneak-preview-nyc-110091.html
          DaveMart
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          No, they are going for series production. You don't spend that sort of money to switch production on and off.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          You also forgot Mitsubishi, who started before Nissan/Renault producing BEVs, and have sold tens of thousands.
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          I suppose they will manufacture them much like Ferrari, Ford and Chevy does, and that seems to be according to demand. They won't go all in like Nissan with a goal to drive down price through mass production but instead will keep prices high by only producing for demand. Patiently waiting for demand to die in order to go back to ICE production. Ford says look at our 70 mile range EV, it is so expensive, and does so little, clearly not ready for prime time. But see how smart we are, we built one anyway. Thank you for buying our cheap ICE vehicle, please come again You say they invested millions David M, hell, they spent more than that on bad advertisement in a year and this is better greenwash advertisement than any, so if it flops, it is written off as advertisement. Nissan/Renault are the only ones. They will be the first ones to offer a affordable EV to the masses without government incentives. The Volt is not a EV and because it has two large motors and a engine it is expensive. The Volt blows the Focus EV away in sheer hardware alone. Still not a one of them is trying except for Nissan.
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 2 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Seems like GM spent a large sum of money to turn Volt production on and off. The carbon fiber experiments can easily go on ICE vehicles. Yes Mitsubishi was selling there16 kwh 40 mile range car for 40k because they were first. Man what a rip that was. Sorry but not much of a EV. They did what Focus is doing now. I am going to put my car in the Better Homes and Living Show. If their is a Focus EV their I will park next to it and put up a sign. "120 miles at 55 mph on one charge." "Focus 70 miles at 55 mph" "Both cars cost the same, one is, quote, unquote mass produce, one was purchased in 2008 dollars, what is wrong with this picture? I may put a for sale sign on it for 28k and offer a 3 year 36k mile warranty, labor only. You see I have two now, one I got off ebay for 15k dollars. I don't really want to sell it, I love having two EV's. Plus the one in the show will be their Thursday through Monday so it is good to have another EV to drive.
      Rotation
      • 2 Months Ago
      Simply plunge in? No. But they have been dragging their feet. Honda, Toyota and GM did what BMW is doing not about a decade ago. I'm not asking them not to plunge in, but to not run away. Honda and Nissan doesn't even use direct injection (much) and they still found a way to make EVs long before the Germans you say are conservative. Stop apologizing for them. And BMW, stop the greenwashing and take action.
      • 2 Months Ago
      Tesla: doing in 7 years what BMW has failed to do for 40.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Months Ago
      @Rotation: If you don't think that building several new factories and committing very large amounts of money is action, then I don't know what they can do more. They had a slow start, sure, but they are going for it now.
      Neil Ash
      • 2 Months Ago
      BMW looks back at 40 years of NOT producing electric cars that we can buy. I love the 'technology is not ready' excuse. Well of COURSE the technology is not ready if you never spend time and money on it. We've HAD the tech for a long, long time, but they're all too cosy in bed with the oil companies to get up and make it happen. Screw BMW, my money is on Tesla. Those guys make everyone else's cars look like last years jockey shorts. Sorry I'm cranky, I'm still upset about Aptera.
        Jason H
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Neil Ash
        It's all about energy density. The energy stored in a gallon of gas is several orders of magnitude higher than what can be stored in the most advanced battery of the same size. I guess conspiracy theories are more entertaining than physics.
      • 2 Months Ago
      Tesla: Doing in 7 years what BMW has failed to do for 40 years.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Months Ago
      long tradition.. has to be among the biggest lies yet
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Months Ago
      I'm waiting for the Chrysler EV history video. They should release it as an animated gif.
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