BMW and the Olympics: not a new thing

BMW’s involvement with the Olympic games is not a new event: nearly 40 years ago, it was again leading the charge at the Games of the XX Olympiad. 

Leading the charge, literally. Its fleet that time round was a series of orange BMW 1602 Elektro – pure EV cars that BMW had been developing since 1969.

These boasted some decent stats, given how they were pioneering modern-day electric cars. Despite a brace of 12v lead acid batteries, the motor was able to produce 43hp, and the range was more than enough to serve as a decent escort vehicle at the Games.

The orange 1602 Elektro even led the marathon and road walk events during the two-month Olympic Games event, suggesting the real-world range was 26 miles plus a decent safety margin… not bad for something using similar batteries to those in our cars today (check out the image – literally rows of car batteries…). The quoted range was 60km at a constant 50km/h.

Marking the start of BMW’s battery vehicle research programme, several more electric BMWs followed the 1602 Elektro through the years, culminating in the forthcoming launch of the i3 and i8. But it was back at the Olympic Games in 1972 that BMW’s EV aspirations first received global recognition.

How fitting that, 40 years on, the firm is back at the Games with a fleet that again includes electric vehicles: 200 MINI E and BMW 1 Series ActiveE will help make up the 4500-car fleet, which meets the sub-120g/km overall CO2 target set by LOCOG with ease.

Indeed, the green BMW and MINI fleet has seen BMW become a Tier One ‘Sustainability Partner’ for the 2012 London Olympics, no doubt aided, as board member Ian Robertson pointed out, by being voted Dow Jones’ most sustainable car company for five years in a row.

It says something for progress, though, that the chief reason for this big Olympic sustainability win is not the presence of EVs, but the fact 1842 320d EfficientDynamics will be used on the fleet. Yes, the 1602 Elektro showwd the world BMW could do zero emissions back in the 70s but, four decades on, it’s the low emissions of that car’s generational successor, the 3 Series, that gives BMW the real world win.

Seems even now, the world is not quite ready for electric cars. At least the Olympic effort to change minds is now underway…

London 2012 Olympics and BMW: the fleet

  • 200 Electric Vehicles (MINI E and 1 Series ActiveE)
  • 1842 320d EfficientDynamics (68.9mpg)
  • 679 520d EfficientDynamics (62.8mpg)
  • 20 5 Series ActiveHybrid (44.1mpg)
  • 3 730Ld SE (41.5mpg)
  • 6 MINI Cooper D Countryman (64.2mpg)
  • 308 318d and 520d Touring EDs (62.8mpg/57.6mpg)
  • 23 X3 and X5
  • 30 on- and off-road motorcycles
  • 400 BMW bicycles
  • 971 Vans, MPVs and Minibuses
London 2012 Olympics and BMW: who’ll be using them
  • 320d – course cars for Olympic torch relay and cycling events, transport for Technical Delegates who’ll visit all competitions and facilities to check compliance with international regulations
  • 520d – shuttling athletes
  • X3 – tow boats for sailing and rowing events
  • X5 – pulling equestrian horse ambulances
+ Designing the new BMW F30 3 Series
+ Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4