BMW Celebrates 40 Years of Building EVs

BMW Electrics 1 photo
Photo: BMW
While BMW has made the green headlines countless times in the last few years, following the announcement that they would be launching a new and very green sub-brand, called ‘i’, which would only get all-electric or hybrid vehicles in its range, their history of building EVs is actually much older.
In fact, it is now 40 years old, as the first EV they ever made was the 1602 electric prototype, of which two were built - they were first shown at the 1972 Olympic Games. This concept had a 43 hp electric motor, which drew its juice from twelve lead-acid batteries, for a maximum speed of 100 km/h and a range of around 30 km or 19 miles.

Later, in 1975 they revealed the LS Electric, which featured regenerative braking tech, for the first time. It had a lower-power 23 hp motor, and it was good for a top speed of 65 km/h, and its range was roughly the same as the 1602.

Their first proper attempt at making an EV was the 325iX Electric, from the 1980s, which had a 30 hp electric motor, yet it had much better sodium-sulphur batteries, which gave it a maximum range of 150 km or 93 miles. Performance was leisurely, as the car hit 50 km/h in 9 seconds, while its top speed was also 100 km/h.

The E1 concept followed at the 1991 Frankfurt Auto Show, and it had 43 hp, was able to reach a top speed of 120 km/h and had the same 150 km range as the 325iX Electric. The latter evolved into a more complete package, with the addition of a more powerful 61 hp electric motor, which cut its 0-50 km/h time to 6 seconds, while top speed increased to 135 km/h, or 84 mph.

What BMW is trying to emphasize with this celebration of its EV history is that their upcoming EV offerings are the product of literally decades of research, and while other manufacturers may have somewhat more advanced technology, at least BMW has some history, as well.
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