BMW E1 & i3 Cutaways Show Similarities

3 years ago by Mark Kane 12

BMW E1

BMW E1

BMW i3 - Now EPA Rated

BMW i3

Comparing the BMW E1 from 1991 and the BMW i3 from 2013 shows us how much changed in less than 20 years.

There are different batteries, different materials like CFRP and DC charging capability.  However, as InsideEVs found a year ago, there are a lot of similarities between these two BMW EVs.

From the name consisting of one letter and one digit, through to the concept of a four seat electric car, the motor position at the rear axle, the use of light weight materials (aluminum spaceframe and plastic panels in E1)…and so on.

Aren’t they rather similar? Here are cutaways of both cars:

BMW E1

BMW E1

BMW i3

BMW i3

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12 responses to "BMW E1 & i3 Cutaways Show Similarities"

  1. Assaf says:

    Wow, never heard of this one. What was the range on it, and why did they stop making it? Or was it only a concept car?

    1. Cavaron says:

      Range was announced to be 250km (150 miles), but the prototype only had a 19kWh battery. Either range was calculated with something like 20mph, or the production version should have had a bigger battery (at least 30kWh). It was a hot sodium–sulfur battery, which would have used 2kWh/day to maintain operating temperature of 300°C while parked. Top speed was 72mph.
      With light weight materials (and far lesser safety regulations back in 1991) weight was just 900kg, including 200kg from the 19kWh battery.

      The car was BMWs response to the Clean Air Act and Zero Emission Mandate in California from 1990.

      Other manufacturers had similar plans, like the Mercedes A class and Audi A2, which where designed as EVs with sodium–sulfur battery also. Renault and PSA developed the AX, Clio, Kangoo, Berlingo, P106 and Saxo EV conversions with NiCd-batteries.

      Afte the Clean Air Act was stopped, only the french EVs went in production and on sale in Europe in the mid 90s till 2003. Overall more than 15.000 where sold in this time-frame.

      Would the Clean Air Act have stayed intact, the EV revolution could have started more than 15 years ago…

    2. Surya says:

      I think it was a concept car. Not only where they probably concerned about the range, but I think they also had problems with safety when it came to the battery.

  2. Fabian says:

    I think InsideEVs is reaching here. Yeah, they are compact EVs, and yeah, from BMW; but there are only a couple of ways you can skin a cat in this EV car segment. So, structurally and engineering-wise; I don’t think they are so similar.

    1. Aaron says:

      Exactly. If you do a cut-away of the i-MiEV, it also looks similar. And the Smart ED. And any other rear-motor, rear-wheel drive EV.

  3. MDEV says:

    They are ugly alike.

  4. Compumagic says:

    I’ve had so many comments on my i3 and all positive. Everyone who sees it smiles, thumbs up me or says how awesome it looks. I think the ones who call it ugly have not seen it in person or driven it.

    1. vdiv says:

      Have seen it in person many times now, and have driven it. You are a brave person as some of those smiles may be due to sympathy. 🙂

    2. david_cary says:

      Also, it would take quite an ass to yell out, your car is ugly. That being said, it is a different looking car. Ugly is just in the eye of the beholder.

  5. Doug B says:

    Wow, they both also have 4 wheels, crazy how little changes ;O)

  6. Get Real says:

    No surprise. The Volt likewise shares a lot with the EV1 like its signature T-shaped battery pack.