BMW is a company known for its performance cars, its racing cars, it's M cars. But its...electric cars? Talk about a best kept secret.
2012 marked the 40th anniversary of the first all-electric BMW. To celebrate the fact and to help promote the contemporary "Project i" cars, BMW put out a brief press release on its EV efforts, starting way back in 1972 at the Olympics games in Munich.
Although the Paul Bracq-designed E25 Turbo concept car was set to steal the show at the Games of the XX Olympiad, BMW also wanted one of their road cars to lead the opening ceremonies that year. But the Olympic committee wisely demanded that it be modified to prevent the athletes from inhaling the car's exhaust fumes. The would also have to serve as a means of transport for the Olympic organising committee members, and also act as a camera car for certain events.
BMW's answer was an electric one.
They began development of two examples of the electric 02; it also afforded them a chance to see if a electric power sytem was adequate to the demands of daily driving. In the 1602 EV, the M10 engine and four-speed manual transmission were replaced by a Bosch DC electric motor with maximum power of 32 kW (43.5 bhp). The motor fed into an intermediate transmission (basically a heavy-duty forward/reverse switch) and rear wheel drive was retained as on the standard petrol model. The electric motor itself weighed 85 kg, but it was nothing close to the 350 kg of the 12 lead-acid Varta batteries housed in the engine bay. With a top speed of 62mph and a mere 19 mile range which even with their limited Olympic use pushed the boundaries of their limits, probably explains BMW why built two cars. So while the car was never going to be a production reality with the battery technology available, let alone the fact that petrol was generally cheaper then electricity in the 70's, it did give BMW the courage to develop a second electric vehicle (based on an old 700 model) in 1975 to test a new charging system.
While BMW's development of the electric car has been rather sporadic over 40 years, it seems they're now serious with pushing the EV ideal forward; the i3 & i8 concepts are proof of that.
More pictures here.
|A normal 2002, right? Until you notice the script on the doors and the lack of an exhaust pipe...|
|Alright, who said flux capacitor?|
|Vorwärts to go foward, rückwärts to go backwards...|
|L-R: 1602, E30, E1 concept cars from 1991, E36 saloon & coupé, Mini and E82 1-series coupé|