BMW celebrates 40 years of building electric vehicles

Electric vehicles are finally becoming mainstream, but BMW is celebrating their 40th anniversary of building the eco-friendly automobile.

BMW is celebrating their 40th anniversary of building electric vehicles.

Things kicked off at the 1972 Olympic Games when BMW introduced two 1602 Electric prototypes. Essentially a proof of concept, the vehicles were equipped with a 43 HP (32 kW) electric motor and twelve 12V lead-acid batteries. This enabled the models to accelerate from 0-50 km/h (31 mph) in 8 seconds, hit a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) and travel approximately 30 km (19 miles) on a single charge.

A few years later the company introduced the BMW LS Electric in 1975. Equipped with regenerative brakes and an onboard charger, the model featured a 23 HP (17 kW) electric motor and ten 12V batteries. This enabled the prototype to accelerate from 0-50 km/h (31 mph) in 11.4 seconds, hit a top speed of 65 km/h (40 mph) and travel approximately 30 km (19 miles) on a single charge.

In the early 80's, BMW began developing the 325iX Electric. Equipped with sodium-sulphur (NaS) batteries, which had an energy density three times greater than lead-acid batteries, the 325iX offered the first glimpse at a feasible electric vehicle. It had a 30 HP (22 kW) electric motor which enabled the car to accelerate from 0-50 km/h (31 mph) in 9 seconds, hit a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) and travel up to 150 km (93 miles) on a single charge.

Encouraged by the results of the 325iX Electric, BMW began developing its first purpose-built electric vehicle. Originally unveiled at the 1991 Frankfurt Motor Show, the E1 concept featured aluminium construction and a lightweight plastic exterior. Power was provided by a sodium-sulphur battery which powered an electric motor that developed 43 HP (32 kW). It enabled the model to accelerate from 0-50 km/h (31 mph) in 6 seconds, hit a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) and travel up to 150 km (93 miles) on a single charge.

Shortly thereafter, BMW unveiled the 325 electric which used sodium-nickel chloride batteries. This change, along with the addition of a powerful 61 HP (45 kW) electric motor, enabled the model to run from 0-50 km/h (31 mph) in 6 seconds, hit a top speed of 135 km/h (84 mph) and travel up to 150 km (93 miles) on a single charge.

In more recent years, BMW has offered the MINI E and the BMW ActiveE. While they were only available in limited quantities, they helped pave the way for the upcoming i3 that will enter production in late 2013.

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Model BMW i3
Automaker BMW
Article type Electric Vehicle
Tags 325 electric, 325ix electric, 1602 electric, bmw 325 electric, bmw 325ix electric, bmw 1602 electric, bmw 1602 electric prototype, bmw activee, bmw e1 concept, bmw ev, bmw i3, bmw ls electric, e1 concept, ls electric, mini e