BMW’s first electric car, a 1602 with its engine swapped for an array of batteries, in this case ordinary 12-volt car batteries, made its debut at the 1972 Olympic Games held in the automaker’s home town of Munich. Two examples were used to shuttle VIPs and serve as support cars in various long-distance events like the marathon.
However, with a weight penalty of 770 pounds due to its numerous lead-acid batteries, and with a range of just 37 miles, the electric 1602—understandably—was deemed unsuitable for production. Nevertheless, BMW would continue development of electric drivetrain technology.
Over the next few decades, the German automaker would develop a handful of electric cars, though all of these would be prototypes and limited production models. That changed in 2013 when the i3 arrived, finally augmenting the automaker’s lineup with a permanent, mass-produced electric car.