Forgotten studies: the BMW E1

Munich, 26. March 2018

You know the feeling? In the case of some full-bodied advertised novelty you might think: Everything ever been there. Old wine in new bottles. That's the way it went for me recently, when I acquired for very little money at the Techno Classica in Essen, the prospectus of the BMW E1.

E1: mobility and the future

That once there was studies with the name of E1 in the case of BMW, I already knew and had seen the vehicles in the Museum. But that prospectus that I now held in the hands, was not a simple sheet. But 20 pages from the August, 1993, act like a regular prospectus. Title: mobility and the future. A way for a practical reason: the BMW E1. And a page further: "an automobile, which is characterized now by a high degree of maturity."


But after the series. 1991 BMW showed the first E1, the 3,46 meters short prototype of an electric car with four Seats. At the beginning of 1993 to study the concept Z13 with an internal combustion engine. Both ideas were merged in the same year, the second Version of the E1. Thus, BMW was in the Trend, because you had to think of something to reduce the fleet consumption. Arch-rival Mercedes thought similar to, and introduced at the same time, the first studies for the future A-class and the Smart.

Red-Green BMW-coalition

Let's look at the BMW E1 from the prospectus in more detail: 3,67-Meter-long three-door model with high-mounted tail lights, but a front end that took the 5-series (E39) 1995 anticipated. Detailed technical data BMW also supplied: width: 1,64 meters, height of 1.49 meters. Wheelbase: 2.45 M. Empty weight: between 800 and 960 kg and 290 to 860 litres of cargo. In all three variants. Red is the E1 with a combustion engine, painted in the Form of the unit from the motorcycle K 1100. 82 HP, 110 Newton-meters, five courses. Enough for 180 km/h top speed, 11.5 seconds to 100 km/h and five to six liters of consumption.

Precursor to the i3

The highlight was the hybrid version as a second option, but the bright green E1 on 80 percent of the brochure pages. It was 20 years before the i3, a pure electric car, the engine and gearbox in the rear axle were integrated. The Battery? Not like today, Lithium-ion technology, but sodium-Nickel-chloride. 32 kW of continuous power (the equivalent of almost 45 PS) and 150 Newton-meters of torque. 19 kilowatt-hours of energy did not fit in the battery of the Europe-E1, the US Version got 24 kilowatt-hours missed and weighed, therefore, 60 kilograms more.

Amazing Range

When looking at the detail of the specified realm of the US Version-wide (today's manufacturers tend to have covered) I'll come to be Amazed: 0.5 kW power consumption listed on the BMW, the electric-E1 was approximately 190 kilometres in city traffic (about 115 miles with the air conditioning), 215 kilometers at a constant speed of 80 km/h and even up to 330 km at a constant 50 km/h. Oh, Yes: a Maximum of 125 km/h. Only times for comparison: the first Version of the sophisticated design of the BMW i3 was given as a standard range of 190 km.

There is a real chance on the series

Of course, the passenger cell of the E1 was not like the i3 is made of carbon fiber, but aluminum. Added to this was the outer skin of thermoplastic plastic, as well as a roof and the Flaps made of aluminium. Apparently, not much was missing to the series production of the E1. You wrote in 1993 in the prospectus: "The BMW E1 is a study with real opportunities to complement today's Automobiles makes sense. [...] If the market confirms this conception, could be the study in the near future a tangible reality." However, BMW also limited: "If a Mature battery technology, as well as the vehicle itself, it could be E1 without another already in the series."

Mini instead of E1

But it should come differently. In March 1994, the BMW took the 4,21-Meter-long 3 series Compact on the market, in the same year, Rover was taken over. Left of the Mini remained for Munich. It, BMW brought out in the year 2001, completely new on the market. Length: 3,63 meters, so almost exactly as long as the E1. Base engine: 90 HP and 140 Newton-meters, also similar to the nitro-E1. And so it comes to me when reading in the E1-prospectus is often the What-if thought: What would have been, if BMW had not taken the Rover?(rh)