BMW Celebrating 40 Years In The Electric Auto Industry
In September we were writing about and following the exploits of one Jack Brown from Altos, California and his drive, in a 2012 BMW Active E electric vehicle, from his home in the Bay Area to Los Angeles in a day, and then turning right back around and taking another day to return. He completed the trip, and the story again brought attention to the electric movement and the little known fact that BMW has actually been in the electric game for 40 years.
Starting with the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, BMW provided the two BMW 1602’s which were concept cars used to courier Olympic officials back and forth as the games proceeded. These cars were powered by led batteries and had a range of only 37 miles. But, at the least, the automotive industry was talking about the viability of the electric car industry and BMW did not stop there.
Entering into the 1980’s BMW, according to hybridcars.com, championed an initiative called “Electric car with high-energy battery” which moved the technology towards sodium-sulfur energy devices where there were test rigs with built-in output calculators. City-driving was also studied and the BMW 325 ix models were used by mail carriers in Germany through the decade.
The production of the batteries continued to lean towards sulfur based, the efficiencies increased as well as the range as, by this time, a range of 93 miles was obtained. Also, instead of customizing existing cars with electric components, BMW had increased investments to create concept cars which, from the ground up, were geared and ready for electric power and thus the BMW E1 was introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1991.
These cars were lighter and, although still had a focus of inner-city driving, the range increased to 100 miles. This was the first time there was a concerted effort to convert this concept into 25 production vehicles, which were based on the 3 Series. So, the electric efforts were, by this time, ingrained into the company culture and BMW was on its way to be a leader in the industry as for the next four years the 325 was studied in year-round conditions in Germany and adjustments were made for future designs.
Those adjustments garnered the group of 600 all-electric MINI E’s in 2008 and from there we vaulted to 2010 and the Active E series and, of course, we are now introducing to the world the BMW i3 and i8, the i3 planning to be released to the world in 2013.
For 40 years, BMW has been extremely involved in the electric industry and therefore, without question, stands as a leader in the field as well as a leading advocate for a greener world.