BMW Has Been Building Mediocre Electric Cars Since 1972

bmw electric car lineup

Photo: BMW

While most people think of electric cars as a new phenomenon (or a very old one), BMW has been working on them since 1972.To mark its fourth decade of producing zero-emissions vehicles, the German automaker brought some past models together for a group photo shoot.

The trip down memory lane revealed some pretty cool cars, but none that could be used for practical driving until just a few years ago.

The 1602 Electric was born in 1972, and was used at the Olympic Games in Munich. It had a top speed of 62 mph and took eight seconds to go from 0 to 31 mph. Its battery pack weighed nearly 800 pounds.

From 1987 to 1990, BMW worked on the 325iX. It was actually slower than the 1972 car, but its 93 mile range was a big step up.

The E1 and E2, from the early 1990s, were BMW's fastest electric cars yet. They were also by far the ugliest.

This is not the kind of 'green' that car buyers are looking for.

They were followed by the more reasonably styled 325 Electric. It had a range of 93 miles and could hit 31 mph in six seconds.

All told, the 3 Series was the basis for 25 experimental vehicles, helping advance BMW's electric technology.

In 2008, the electric MINI heralded a new day for battery-powered BMWs. With a 94 mph top speed an a 155 mile range, it could be practically used.

The ActiveE, first brought out in 2010, is now used for DriveNow, BMW's car sharing program.

The i8 plug-in hybrid concept is gorgeous and powerful, with 356 horsepower, enough to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Here it is in New York last month.

The all-electric i3 is an odd-looking one, but it is practical, with room for four people and luggage.

It looks more reasonable without the transparent doors. It should hit the market late next year, with a price tag below $50,000.

Here's the group shot.

Now take a closer look at the i8 and i3.

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