BMW might be more than a year away from bring its first production electric car -- the 2014 BMW i3 -- to production, but the German automaker wants you to know that it isn’t new to electric cars.

You may not know it, but BMW’s electric car history spans 40 years. 

As part of its preparations for providing all-electric ActiveE and Mini E cars to the 2012 London Olympics, BMW is keen to share its electric car heritage with a short trip down memory lane. 

It can’t claim to be as prolific an electric automaker as Volkswagen, nor can BMW’s i brand trace its heritage as far back as Nissan, but at least it can prove 2012 isn’t the first time it has provided electric cars to the Olympics. 

As Autobloggreen explains, BMW converted a 1972 BMW 1602 sports sedan to all-electric drive for the 1972 Munich Olympic games. 

Replacing its gasoline M10 four-cylinder engine with a bank of lead acid batteries and a 32-kilowatt motor, BMW engineers managed to squeeze enough range out of the car to allow it to operate as a support car on the 26-mile marathon course. 

1972 BMW Electric 1602

1972 BMW Electric 1602

From then on, BMW continued to work on electric car prototypes, with a succession of electrified 3-series test cars during the 1980s and 1990s.

By 1993, BMW’s electric car program had become less esoteric, with the debut of its E1 electric test fleet. 

Looking remarkably similar in size to the i3 we’re expecting to launch next year, the E1 had room for four and was designed primarily as a city commuting vehicle. 

At this year’s Olympic games in London, BMW has already promised a green fleet to ferry VIPs around, including BMW Mini Es and ActiveEs. But given 2012 marks BMW’s 40th anniversary of first using an electric car at the Olympics, we’d like to think it might roll out an all-electric 1972 1602. 

Just for old times’ sake. 


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