BMW built a sleek-looking electric car in 1972 that was way ahead of its time

Before all that BMW iPerformance fanciness, the Bavarian automaker had a much simpler electric car. That car was the BMW 1602e.

Without the 1602e, it’s possible that BMW wouldn’t be where it is today with innovative electric cars like the i3 or the i8.¬†

Let’s take a look back at it all started.

This is the car that started BMW's dive into electric cars.

BMW

BMW used 12 normal 12V car batteries in the 1602, but they were all combined to function as a single, massive cell. Combined, the batteries weighed 771 lbs.

BMW

Lightweight lithium-Ion battery tech that's used commonly today wasn't available back then, so the 12 batteries that are used in the 1602e were lead-acid type.

BMW

The batteries were combined with an electric motor from Bosch. Unfortunately, the car had a limited range of just 37 miles.

BMW

Only two secret prototypes were built.

BMW

It was shown off in Munich at the 1972 Olympics where it was used to lead long-distance runners.

BMW

For the most part, it's pretty much like the normal BMW 1600 which it was based on.

BMW

But instead of a tachometer, the gauge on the right displays estimated range.

BMW

No five-speed manual found here.

BMW

See it in action.

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.