A challenge for the more widespread use of electric vehicles is the presence of a sufficiently widespread seamless charging infrastructure.
BMW – which debuted its i3 city EV in July 2013, followed by the i8 sports hybrid EV in September 2013 – is now pioneering a new “Light and Charge” concept in which a high-efficiency LED street lighting system doubles as a charging station for electric vehicles.
The first two prototype systems, installed at BMW Welt in Munich, went operational on November 5.
“Light and Charge”
“Light and Charge is a simple and innovative solution which aims to seamlessly integrate a smoothly functioning charging station network into the urban landscape,” explains Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “A seamless charging infrastructure is essential if we want to see more electric vehicles on the road in our cities in the future.”
With a modular LED design, the Light and Charge street light is more energy efficient than conventional street lighting and provides more effective illumination. It can be installed anywhere and its modular design can to be tailored to different locations. Up to four LED modules can be used to provide night-time lighting on main roads, while one or two modules are sufficient to provide agreeable lighting on side streets and in residential areas. As is already the case with vehicle headlights, LED technology allows more targeted light distribution with less unnecessary and ecologically undesirable “scatter”.
Light and Charge pilot in Munich
A Light and Charge pilot project is due for launch in Munich in spring 2015. The solution BMW is developing in cooperation with the city can be grafted straight onto the existing local authority street lighting infrastructure, substantially increasing the number of public charging stations at a stroke.
Replacing conventional street lights with Light and Charge systems, EV charging stations can be set up at any location where suitable parking is available. The EV charging cable connects to a standard connector on the Light and Charge street light. An integrated control panel allows drivers to start charging with a press of a button. The electricity used is billed via the BMW i ChargeNow network, which encompasses currently approximately 18,000 charging stations worldwide.
Light and Charge has also been designed for integration into the European Hubject “e-roaming” platform, which integrates charging station operators and emobility providers across the region. This will expand the number of charging stations available to drivers, regardless of vehicle model and electricity provider.
emobility is clearly an important part of BMW’s future. Not yet having had an opportunity at Engerati to drive either of BMW’s EVs it would appear on paper at least that the company has brought its usual level of innovation and distinction to these models. A notable innovation with the i3 is the introduction of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic for the use of much of the internal structure and body to reduce weight and increase the range – officially from BMW up to 160 km. Further energy savings come from the use of energy efficient interior heating and the use of LEDs for interior (and optional for exterior) lighting.
In its latest corporate report for the third quarter of 2014 BMW reports that sales of the i3 since the beginning of the year surpassed the 10,000 mark in September to reach 10,199 by the end of that month. Following the market launch in the USA and Japan in the second quarter, the i3 is also now available in China since October (initial market launch was in Europe in Q4 2013). 341 units of the i8, launched in June, had been delivered to customers by the end of September.
In September also, BMW launched a fast home charger, the i Wallbox Pro, offering a faster charging rate than its earlier i Wallbox Pure, as well as innovative options for vehicle charging with home-generated electricity and smart home integration.
Compatible with BMW EVs as well as other vehicles with the appropriate standard connector, the i Wallbox Pro offers a charging rate of up to 7.4kW, so that for example the i3’s Li-ion battery can be charged to 80% in under three hours. The charger is able to detect the availability of home generated electricity and use it for charging. If integrated with a smart home system, the charging functionality can be extended further to reduce peak loads on the household electrical system, while the display can be used to control smart home functions.
i Remote app
BMW’s latest emobility achievement is the award of a CES Innovation Award for 2015 for its i Remote mobile app for the Samsung Gear S smartwatch.
The app seamlessly connects BMW i drivers to their vehicle via the watch, allowing real-time access to important information. In the case of the BMW i3, for example, the app shows not only the time but also the electric range available, the battery charge level and – during the charge process – the estimated charge time remaining. The user can also query the vehicle’s status, such as whether any of the doors, windows or boot are open. Other features include control of the onboard climate and for example, the interior can be preheated while the vehicle is connected to the power supply.