BMW’s recent expansion into the electric vehicle market has proven a resounding success, with over 10% of all BMWs sold now electrically powered. However, BMW’s work with EVs did not begin with the i3 and i8, as this 1972 ‘1602e’ proves.
The i3’s brilliance has been no coincidence as it is far from BMW’s first effort, even if it was the first to be truly mass-produced. One of BMW’s earliest forays into EVs, the 1602e, began development in 1969. That BMW chose to explore electrical propulsion at a time when fuel was so cheap, but with the fuel crisis of the ’70s just about to hit, proves especially prophetic. Indeed the 1602e was revealed at the 1972 Munich Olympics, just over a year before the 1973 oil crisis would dramatically increase energy prices.
Despite the opportune timing however, BMW never intended to put the 1602e into production, but it served as a study of what was possible and what could be possible – with the i3 clearly the eventual conclusion to the thought.