BMW Racing to Build EV Infrastructure in Germany and U.S.A.

November 18, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

America's largest and fastest-growing public dc fast charging network is partnering with BMW to add DC Fast Combo charging to hundreds of EVgo charging locations in 25 cities. This follows the announcement that BMW, E.ON SE and Siemens have completed the installation of eight dc fast-charging stations and related infrastructure along the A9 freeway connecting Munich, Nuremburg, and Leipzig.

"Fast-charging for Electric Vehicles along the A9 freeway," a research project conducted by BMW, E.ON, and Siemens, came to a successful conclusion at the end of October 2015. Berlin-based Allego GmbH will now begin commercial operation of the eight fast-charge stations. "ELECTRIC MOBILITY CONNECTS (BAVARIA-SAXONY)," a showcase project supported by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, enabled e-mobility in Germany to take a big step forward. Nine government-supported projects are establishing a nationwide charge infrastructure for the country's freeway system.

The network of charge stations between Munich and Leipzig offered users two payment schemes: a pay-as-you-go scheme using text messages and a contractual e-roaming scheme administered by a mobility-services provider. Throughout the project, the partners evaluated customers' preferences for the two schemes as well as the location and economics of the individual charge stations. Thanks to its attractive location, the station near Ingolstadt Village outlet mall was the most successful.

All of the stations were designed to provide users with a convenient, safe, and efficient charge experience. They offer easy access to vehicles traveling in both directions on the freeway, user-friendly charge procedures, and nearby eating and leisure options for customers while their car is being charged. The experience gathered during the project will benefit other projects in Germany as well as Allego, thereby supporting the operation of a national DC charge infrastructure.

EV drivers generally prefer to use e-roaming apps to pay for charges. Two thirds of all charges along the A9 were paid for via Hubject, an e-roaming platform. But a no-contract, pay-as-you-go scheme also proved necessary, with one third of charges being paid for through an SMS-based payment system.

The operations center used a charge-management software solution developed by Siemens to monitor and control the A9 charge infrastructure and quickly resolve any problems. The software also makes it possible to connect the charge stations with the IT systems of energy supply companies and mobility-services providers in order to grant access to the charge infrastructure. The operations center was in service until the project's conclusion and was periodically adjusted as new insights were gained during the project.

"The project with BMW and E.ON enabled us to test dc fast-charge systems under real-life conditions. The results demonstrate that a national network of such systems can be successfully installed along Germany's freeways," said Jan Mrosik, CEO of Siemens's Energy Management division.

"This project makes long-distance EV travel along the A9 possible for the first time. It has also provided us with important insights into e-mobility business models and the needs of EV customers. Several hundred EV owners have used this service. Fast-charge stations will become economic to operate as the number of users increases significantly," said Robert Hienz, CEO of E.ON Energie Deutschland.

"The all-electric BMW i3 is an outstanding product in our lineup. It's the leading vehicle in its class in many markets, which tells us that we're on the right track. For e-mobility to become more popular in Germany, we need a dense public charging infrastructure. That's why the BMW Group is involved in numerous infrastructure projects. It would be nice to see more legislative initiatives in Germany, because experience shows that government incentives increase the popularity of new technology. I believe that properly tailored incentives would encourage significantly more people to embrace e-mobility," said Klaus Frohlich, member of the BMW AG Board of Management with responsibility for development.

"It is our mission in the U.S. to install the right charging solutions at the right places, and EV drivers have overwhelmingly told us they prefer DC Fast chargers at public spaces," said Arun Banskota, President and CEO of EVgo. "Over the next 24 months EVgo will add reliable DC Fast Combo capability to what is already America's largest DC Fast charging network. This will be the fastest and most cost effective build out of a new network ever – thanks in large part to our existing infrastructure and committed retail host partners."

EVgo's public network has the power capacity to support the increasing use of the DC Fast Combo standard. These chargers will be capable of charging the BMW i3 or other DC Fast Combo standard vehicles at 50 kW, the only entire charging network able to provide that level of charge.

BMW's ChargeNow DC Fast program with EVgo was originally introduced in California and led to the largest network of DC Fast Combo chargers in America. Now BMW and EVgo are supporting the rapid addition of DC Fast Combo charging capability at an additional 500 fast charging stations to support BMW i3 customers and other EV drivers in the U.S. The ChargeNow DC Fast program includes two years of no-cost charging for eligible BMW i3 drivers in those areas.

"This significant expansion in the number as well as the locations of publicly available DC Fast Combo chargers further affirms BMW's commitment to e-mobility and will make EV ownership even more enjoyable for BMW i3 drivers," said Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure for BMW of North America.

By year-end 2015, the program will bring at least one 50 kW DC Fast Combo location to all but one of the 25 largest markets, and by year-end 2016 there will be more than 400 additional locations for BMW i3 drivers, and any EV driver of a vehicle that uses the DC Fast Combo standard. "The only way such a massive expansion is possible is because of the purpose built and forward looking planning behind the EVgo network," Banskota added. "EVgo has installed infrastructure with the ability to efficiently and economically add this new DC Fast Combo standard as the number of electric vehicles have increased. EVgo owns and operates our chargers with long term agreements with premium retail hosts and is able to provide the level of customer service, reliability, and pricing that will lead to increased EV adoption and high satisfaction among the existing base of EV drivers."