BMW has a long history of research and development in the field of electric models. In fact, the first experiments date back to the 1972 Munich Olympics, when two battery-powered prototypes, based on the 1602 and called the "Elektro-Antrieb", which translates as Electric Drive, were presented for the occasion.

In fact, that prototype set the course for the brand's future, anticipating by more than 40 years the launch of the i3, the Bavarian company's first series-production electric car.

BMW's first batteries

The 1602 electric prototype used lead-acid batteries with a capacity of 12.6 kWh and a weight of 350 kg. The range was only 60 km (37 miles), which was more than enough for the short journeys planned during the Olympic Games.

In fact, these prototypes were mainly used as a means of transport for the members of the Organising Committee between the sports venues.

BMW 1602 Elektro-Antrieb (1972)

Aesthetically, there were no changes compared to a 1602 with an internal combustion engine, while on board there was specific instrumentation, created to control the main aspects of the electric powertrain.

Considering the time, we could say that the performance was interesting, with a 0 to 50 km/h (31 mph) sprint of 8 seconds and a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).

Evolution of this first prototype

Based on the experiments with the 1602, BMW presented another concept built on the LS platform in 1975, with more efficient batteries and an electric motor.

In the 1980s, the German manufacturer launched the research programme "Electric vehicle with sodium-sulphur batteries" to investigate the use of new-generation batteries and applied the results in eight 325iXs.

BMW 1602 Elektro-Antrieb (1972)

In 1991, BMW presented the E1, a pure electric vehicle prototype for urban use, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, while 2013 saw the arrival of the final i3.

Coming full circle, BMW recently showed the 02 Reminiscence Concept, a restomod-style prototype, which paid homage to the original 1602, with a 32 kW electric motor and a range of 100 km.

Gallery: BMW 1602 Elektro-Antrieb (1972)