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April 25th, 2016

If you thought that BMW started thinking about sustainability and a fossil fuel-free mobility solution with the introduction of the BMW i range in 2011, then you would be wrong. BMW’s first steps towards a cleaner future can be traced back by 44 years, to 1972 when the company showcased the BMW 1602e… an electric car prototype premiered for the 1972 Olympic Games.

1972 BMW 1602e

While the purpose of the BMW 1602 was quite different than to what today’s BMW i range has, the idea was pretty straightforward and similar – showcasing sustainability in a time when fossil fuel became scarce (co-relating to the OPEC crisis back then). But unlike today’s i-range which enjoys its own research and development arm and is a separate entitiy in itself, the 1602e was build with technologies that would be salvaged from the world that was around BMW at the time. The batteries powering the motor for instance was a collection of standard 12V Varta lead-acid car batteries that were joined together and placed under the bonnet, where usually the 1602’s engine went. They were heavy and not that practical, giving a total range of a mere 19 miles even after regenerative braking employed. BMW never actually mentioned the 1602e’s charging time, but it wouldn’t take a lot of imagination to understand that it would have gone into several hours if not days. Imagine if fuels actually disappeared and this became reality back then… the horror.

1972 BMW 1602e Electronics 1972 BMW 1602e Battery Bay

While the range was a pesky 19 miles, the BMW 1602e’s electric motor was equally dreary in the way it performed. Producing an equivalent peak output of 43bhp and hooked to the rear wheels, the 1602e would take about 8.0 seconds to reach 31mph (49.8kmph) from stands still, topping out at 62mph (99.7kmph).

1972 BMW 1602e Left Rear Quarters

Catching up with whats going on in today’s world of sustainable mobility, BMW in joined by almost every manufacturer to set up their own electric or hybrid mobility solutions. Today the future is clearly electric and companies are investing heavily into creating custom tailored solutions for the inevitable future. As a result, battery technology is evolving at a rapid pace. It is save to imaging that 10 years down the line, today’s EVs would look like dinosaurs of the evo-friendly automotive era, and thats what we really want too. Today, electric cars like the BMW i3 provided a range of upto 81 miles (130km) purely on electric drive and with the range extender (2-cylinder gasoline engine) that range can be taken up to 170 miles (273km) while providing a very respectable power output of 170bhp. And with fast charging, and a solid network of charging stations, electric mobility is looking more promising than ever.

We love automotive culture and we are deeply involved with petrol and the smell of it. Classic cars, cafe racers, rear wheel drives and all-wheel driven off-roaders are what makes us go. So why do we occasionally delve into the black art of electric cars (from a true petrolhead perspective)? Well here’s a simple way to put that question to reasoning… and we believe we all should think of it in this way, for that is the best way to experience being a petrolhead in the upcoming future of inevitability.

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