The BMW 1602 Electric Drive, BMW’s first electric car, debuted 50 years ago this month at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
What’s the first electric car from BMW? Most of us suppose it’s the electric BMW i3, which has just gone out of production after nearly a decade on sale, but it’s not.
In fact, the genesis of BMW’s burgeoning EV journey actually started 50 years ago this month when a pair of BMW 1602 Electric Drive (BMW 1602 Elektro-Antrieb) prototypes were revealed at the 1972 Munich Olympics
A precursor to the BMW 3 Series, the 1602 was a successful sporty small saloon from BMW launched in 1966 as the 1600-2 and later, from 1971, badged as the 1602, and promising a whole 84bhp of rear-wheel drive performance.
To build the 1602 Electric Drive, BMW stripped the ICE out of the 1602, fitted a bank of a dozen 12v lead-acid Varta batteries and added an electric motor on the back axle.
The stats weren’t stunning, with the 350kg battery bank good for only 12.6kWh of power and the electric motor turning out a maximum of 43bhp.
That all added up to a range of 20-30 miles depending on speed and usage, a 0-30mph of a very leisurely 8.0 seconds and top speed of just 62mph.
Clearly, things have moved on in the last 50 years, and BMW celebrated half a century of electric BMWs with a bit of a light show (below on video) for the opening of the European Games in Munich this week, the biggest sporting event to hit Munich since the 1972 Olympics, highlighting its progress.