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BMW Has Been Experimenting with Electric Cars for 40 Years

Starts from 1972 BMW 1602 to 1 Series Active E

 
 
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The electric experimentation has been going for 40 years

The BMWBMWBMWGermany, 1918 > present87 models
8655 photos
43 videos
i-series cars will be the first time that BMW has sold a pure electric car to the public, but it has been experimenting with them for the last 40 years starting from the Munich Olympics in 1972 and going all the way to the 1 Series Active EActiveE ConceptBMW ActiveE ConceptGermany, 2009 > present3 photos
today. 

BMW says that the first production i3i3BMW i3Germany, 2011 > present13 versions
95 photos
1 video
will come off the production line in late 2013, but it started electric car development in 1972 for the Munich Olympics. The modified 16021602BMW 1602Germany, 1966 > present2 photos
had 43hp from 350kg (772lbs) of batteries and a 60km (37 mile) range. The car was used to transport organizing committee members and occasionally as a camera car. It transferred the powerplant to a BMW LS700 LSBMW 700 LSGermany, 1962 > 19651 photo
in 1975 and continued experimenting with it. 

By the 1987, BMW had switched from lead acid batteries to sodium-sulfur batteries in a BMW 325iX325iXBMW 325iXGermany, 1985 > 19911 photo
. Power was down to 30hp, but battery weight was down to 265kg (584lbs). Range was up to 150km (93 miles). It built eight of them, and they were used by the German postal service.

The grandfather of the i3 came in 1991 with the BMW E1. It was the first time that BMW built a dedicated electric car instead of fitting an electric powertrain to an existing model. The body was made from plastic with aluminum used for the hood and trunk. It also used a sodium-nickel chloride battery. It had a 150km range (93 miles) with 43hp. The battery pack weighed 200kg (441lbs).

The powertrain from the E1 was further developed in an electric E36 3 Series3 Series Gen.3BMW 3 Series Gen.3Germany, 1991 > 200168 versions
30 photos
that added power and eventually switched to a nickel-cadmium battery. A total of 35 were built from 1992 to 1997. 

It took BMW a decade to try another electric car, but it has been among the brand's most successful. In 2008, it created the Mini EMini EMINI (BMW) Mini EGermany, 2009 > present4 photos
and has tested 600 of them in the US and Europe with lease customers. It was BMW's first real full-scale test of electric cars and probably what led to the i series. They use a 201hp motor with 260kg (573lbs) of lithium-ion batteries. They have a 250km range (150 miles).

The most recent pure electric BMW is the Active E, which is based on the 1 Series. A thousand of them have been leased to customers. Surprisingly, the Active E has less power and less range than the Mini E. Its 450kg (992lbs) of lithium-ion batteries powered a 168 electric motor. The range is 160km (100 miles). 

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