BMW shows off its first-ever electric car

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BMW electric car
BMW/YouTube

Speak to carmakers involved in electric motoring and they'll tell you their cars are the future. When the oil runs out, overtly space-age-looking machines such as the BMW i3 and Renault Twizy will be the vehicles that keep us moving, silently and cleanly.

The truth is, though, that battery electric cars are nothing new, as this latest video from BMW shows. Highlighting the brand's first forays into electric mobility, the film focuses on its first working model, the 1602e from 1972.

Unveiled at the Munich Olympic Games that year, the model was based on the 02 saloon series, the forebear to the modern-day 3-series. Unlike today's lithium-ion-powered creations, the 1602e was powered by 12 conventional car batteries, which were linked together to create one large battery cell.

This endowed the car with a range of around 37 miles. The battery cell could be recharged or replaced entirely. While it was far less powerful and able to cover less than half the range of today's BMW i3 electric hatchback, the 1602e showed the world that alternatively fueled vehicles were a viable reality.