The BMW EV Concept That You Couldn't Buy

BMW is one of the most popular luxury car brands of all time. The automaker is known for its stylish rides that offer the perfect blend of a modern flair and just enough elegance to remind you that these are top-of-the-line vehicles, and this is all while being known as one of the more affordable luxury brands on the market. BMW has cars for practically all your potential auto needs. If you want a fast ride that's fun to drive, it has got you covered. Are you in the market for an SUV to haul around a group of people? BMW has those, as well. You can buy pretty much any category of vehicle from the automaker, but that doesn't mean you can buy every car it has ever made.

An example of a BMW you can't buy is one of its concept cars: the BMW e1. As you may know, most major car companies make concept cars that are often used to test out new technologies and eventual design changes that may one day end up in production models. There have been some occasions, however, when these concepts were intended to be sold to the public once the company ironed out all of the details (via Top Speed). For the BMW e1, this little car showed the world how far ahead of its time the automaker truly was, even if people couldn't get behind the wheel of one.

The BMW e1 was an EV concept ahead of its time

The BMW e1 was an early '90s electric car that had been revealed at the International Motor Show in Germany, though there were actually two names for this EV — the first generation was called the Z11 internally, and only later dubbed the e1 when publicly revealed. The concept was a 3-door 4-seater all-electric city car that had been in development since 1990, and it was first introduced in 1991. The automaker designed this vehicle to determine whether an all-electric car would be feasible because California had — at that time — recently required 2% of new cars to be zero-emissions vehicles. Unfortunately, the original BMW e1 caught fire while charging, so it needed to be replaced in order for BMW to continue its research (via BMW Blog).

The replacement for the destroyed car came a couple of years later in 1993 and it was also shown off at the International Motor Show in Germany: the BMW Z15. However, this time the company built two prototypes of the car: one was all-electric and the other was a hybrid. As far as a legacy for the concept is concerned, BMW did produce an all-electric city car in 2013 with the i3, a model that started as a concept car in 2011 but hit the market a couple of years later. Too bad that wasn't the case with the second-generation BMW e1.