More Info On BMW’s Game-Changing Low-Cost DC Fast Charger

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 43

We Caught Robert Healey, BMW's EV Infrastructure Manager Doing "Pump" Duties With His Company's New i DC Fast Charger At Plug-In 2014!

We Caught Robert Healey, BMW’s EV Infrastructure Manager Doing “Pump” Duties With His Company’s New i DC Fast Charger At Plug-In 2014!

With BMW announcing its low-cost DC fast charger, we figured we’d hunt down some additional information on this potential game-changing unit.

For starters, it’s a low-power unit (24 kW max) and it works on 400V-480V three-phase, meaning it won’t be cheap to install and will be restricted mainly to commercial sites that have the ability to hook it up to this type of power supply.

The cost is just $6,458 for “partners” of BMW.  We reached out to BMW to get a sense of what is meant by “partners.”  BMW’s response was that right now it considers “partners” to be dealerships, utilities and municipalities interested in working with BMW.

When asked what the”retail” price of the unit is, BMW told us that a “retail” price is not yet available, but adds that the automaker is “willing to work” with anyone interested in getting one of these DC fast-charge units installed.

To us, this sound as though BMW will subsidize purchases in order to get more of these chargers in the ground.  If this is true, then BMW will join the likes of Nissan and Tesla as the only automakers actively contributing to the public fast-charging infrastructure, thus proving that BMW fully supports plug-in electric vehicles.

A $6,458 DC fast-charger is only game changing if there are hundreds and then eventually thousands installed.  BMW has the opportunity with this low-cost unit to change the fast-charging game, but will it commit the necessary resources to enact change?  Only time will tell if BMW becomes as proactive on the charging front as leaders: Nissan and Tesla.

Specs On The BMW i DC Fast Charger

Specs On The BMW i DC Fast Charger

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43 responses to "More Info On BMW’s Game-Changing Low-Cost DC Fast Charger"

  1. kdawg says:

    We have 3ph 480VAC at my company’s plant. Would love to have one of these installed. Unfortunately, my Volt doesn’t have DC charging. How about a 480VAC to L2 charger?

    1. Huffster says:

      Hopefully next gen volt will have DC charging. Or, more realistically: at least 6.6kwh L2 J1772.

      1. Turbofroggy says:

        Even a Tesla 10KW single-standard charger could recharge a Volt in 1 hour or less on a standard 208/240 volt 100 amp circuit on a Clipper Creek CS-100. A CS-100 costs about $2K, 1/3 the price of this DCFC.

  2. Phil Trubey says:

    This is so lame. Tesla makes a 20 kW charger (AC) that they sell to anyone for $1200. It works off residential single phase or commercial 3 phase.

    As far as building out charging infrastructure goes, a single charger in a location isn’t very useful. You need a bank of them or else people will not know whether or not they’ll a have to wait to charge. Tesla’s superchargers have 4 to 10 bays per location.

    1. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

      yes. and Clipper Creek’s CS100 at $2195 delivers 20KW via a J1772 connector.

    2. mustang_sallad says:

      Those are EVSEs, not chargers. The Model S includes either 1 or 2 onboard chargers that allow you to convert 240VAC to the DC voltage required by the battery, and they add 1000’s of dollars to the price of the car, as well as extra weight. The idea behind DC fast charging is that you leave the power electronics in the charging station, saving cost and weight in the vehicle. An AC charging station is a fancy extension cord with big relays and some communications equipment. Some people argue that they should be even cheaper than the prices you quoted.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        I think one also has to remember (besides the differences between being a charger and a EVSE) that these units are built to “public charging” standards…which is quite different in and of itself than the flimsey/glorified wall extension cords we use today for L2.

        Not only do they have to be a lot larger and more robust, they include interconnectability with the network using proprietary software – all which has to be costed out over the projected run of the units.

        1. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

          I don’t think the distinction between EVSE and charger is that much when most cars (in the future, anyway) will have relatively good chargers built in. Plus the CS-100 is a commercial grade EVSE that is field proven. Let’s have this discussion again after a few megawatt hours have been delivered through the BMW chargers. Plenty of examples where inexpensive DCFC chargers have proven to be unreliable.

          1. DonC says:

            I’d have to take the opposite view. The best solution would be to have a small and cheap charger in the car and a large expensive one at the charging station. Your way suggests the pump at a gas station should be in every car.

            1. TomArt says:

              Absolutely – that is one of the many advantages of Teslas – you don’t have to find a charger – just plug in pretty much anywhere with an adapter.

              One of the things holding EVs back is that ridiculous, big-assed charger you have to install in your garage if you want more than 110V, 15A charging. With a Tesla, you can just have an electric dryer outlet installed, for pennies (plus labor for the electrician to install it) and you’re done!

              The weight and cost are very small – not a big deal at all considering the colossal tradeoff of having charging independence.

      2. kdawg says:

        It would be nice if we had a lot of DC charging available(hi-power and low-power), and if they could make a low-cost & small L1 EVSE that would convert 120/240VAC to DC. This way you could remove all of the inverters from the car.

        1. David says:

          Inverters are not that big and will get smaller over time. As a EE, I’d vote for the car to continue to have the smarts, not a dependency on an external charger that can fry your battery if it malfunctions.

        2. David says:

          An EVSE isn’t a charger, its a smart switch to connect the supply voltage to the charge in the car. So you can’t have an EVSE convert to DC.

          You can’t get rid of all inverters in a car anyway. Thats the key component to drive the motor. Another inverter powers the 12v electronics.

    3. Lindsay Patten says:

      “As far as building out charging infrastructure goes, a single charger in a location isn’t very useful. You need a bank of them or else people will not know whether or not they’ll a have to wait to charge. Tesla’s superchargers have 4 to 10 bays per location.”

      Which makes relatively inexpensive chargers attractive, after sinking the costs of wiring to the location it’s economical to install multiple chargers.

    4. Dave R says:

      As others have said, $1200 is for an EVSE, not a charger.

      But Tesla does sell a 10kW charger add-on for $1500 that let’s you charge at 20kW total. Tesla uses 12 of them in each Supercharger cabinet.

      So conceivably if Tesla sold a 30 kW DC charger, it might retail for at least the cost of 3 chargers, or $4500. Add on the cost of the enclosure, cable, etc and BMW’s $6500 sounds pretty reasonable.

  3. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

    I’m not sure what game is being changed by this charger. Also, maybe I’m just being cranky but 24KW and Fast certainly don’t seem to go together. At $6K it’s not a bad price point (though they seem to go out of their way to actually talk about price) but game changing, not a chance.

    1. Lou says:

      Maybe not game changing like an iPhone was but a positive change in direction yes. If the charging infrastructure is going to grow, it needs to get some help in order to simply the installation of units. I think that is the main “game changer” here. The units are “small” compared to existing DC Fast solutions. They require only a 30A, 3-phase circuit found commonly in a commercial building supply. They can be mounted on a pedestal or wall. Also not to be forgotten is the supply cost of the electricity. The “low power” draw of the unit allows it to be supplied at normal commercial electricity rates. The high power chargers have to pay “on demand” prices significantly higher than commercial rates.

    2. David says:

      Agreed. Calling 24kw “fast” seems like a stretch. A Tesla Supercharger can deliver 120kw, 5 times as much power.
      CHAdeMO is designed to deliver up to 62.5kw. The Nissan CHAdeMO charger delivers up to 44kw. All much faster than the supposed “fast” 24kw.

  4. ydnas7 says:

    Mennekes 22kW chargers are now £658.00 inc. VAT

    its about the same speed (24kW DC is not fast)

    http://nuworldenergy.co.uk/shop/product/type-2-charging-station-untethered-32a-three-phase

    22kW AC, that is game changing

    1. mustang_sallad says:

      See my comment below. AC and DC charging – not an apples to apples comparison. You need power electronics at some point.

    2. Taser54 says:

      Different power transmission standards in Europe vs. U.S. Comparisons of European chargers and pricing is not beneficial to this discussion.

    3. Where is the remote control and monitoring function, authentication and payment system?

  5. pjwood says:

    I think 24kw (~60-70 mph?) could work, but people will take a long time to see saving a few thousand in gas, in exchange for even a dozen, or so, hours per year at these things.

    Even with access to 10kw (~30 miles charge/hr), I can see my “BEV minimum” falling from ~130 AER. It’s the intersection of rising AERs, and charging speeds, that will set the sweet spot.

    1. Taser54 says:

      I see these second-tier DC chargers supplanting many L2 chargers in commercial settings.

  6. Sublime says:

    Don’t the inverters in the car accomplish a similar electrical transformation during regen braking: convert 3-phase AC to pack voltage DC?
    I’m not an electrical engineer and I’m sure there is more involved around cleaning up the incoming utility AC, but I’m not seeing why this should be expected to be so expensive.

    1. Cavaron says:

      Yes, thats right. Renault Zoe uses its inverter to charge its batteries with up to 43 kW AC power. Its very noisy (high pitch sound) and needs a special EVSE including a breaker with ac/dc protection. In Europe where almost every household has 22 kW AC, thats the way to go for now imho.

    2. ggpa says:

      Sublime

      Excellent point – the car already has electronics to rectify 3 phase AC during regen – under what circumstances can that also be used for charging?

      I hope somebody can add a detail explanation … apart from a link to the video where somebody recharged his Leaf by towing it behind a truck 😉

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Of course youre correct that its only common sense that you’d think you could reuse the regen electronics to charge the car, but then the so-called ‘Reductive Charging’ is so heavily patented that even Tesla uses separate 9.6 kw chargers (or 2 for 19.2 kw) to avoid litigious lawyers for American Propulsion (if that’s the company name if memory serves – My roadster has that recuctive charging – thats probably why it has no problem charging at 16.8 kw since it has to regen at over 30 kw at times anyway.

        1. TomArt says:

          That’s AC Propulsion.

          1. Bill Howland says:

            AC Propulsion it is, thanks TOMART. Am I correct in remembering the only AC propulsion style vehicles are the Tesla Roadster and the Toyota Rav4ev? Or do they use the 40 amp charger from the model S?

    3. Bill Howland says:

      Agreed. $7000 is a bit pricey for 24000 watts these days. And that’s supposedly the ‘partner price’.

  7. Kalle says:

    It would be cheep to install in europe were we all have 3 phace 400v

    But the more clever way is the renault zoes camelion charger that can take 45 kW AC,

  8. Francis L says:

    To me, it is just a bad idea to invest in a 24 kwh charger. It might be okay for current electric cars, but it will be too slow for next generation with big batteries. Who will want to wait more than an hour for a charge? In less than 10 years, they will have to reinvest to upgrade all those units.

    1. mustang_sallad says:

      *24kW, a charger is rated by its output power. A kWh is a unit of energy, like for measuring the energy capacity of a battery. EV nerds on EV blogs need to get this straight, or the general public will forever have a hard time understanding basic EV concepts.

      1. cwerdna says:

        Yep.

        kW and kWh are very different metrics. It’s the same as confusing gallons with horsepower. The people who keep getting it wrong need to think of kW = horsepower, kWh = gallons.

        The BMW i3 a ~22 kWh capacity battery pack w/18.8 kWh usable. Basically all of the sub-100 mile BEVs have a battery in the high teens to low 20s kWh capacity range.

        (BTW, 1 hp = ~0.746 kW. And, http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evsbs.shtml says 1 gallon of gasoline=33.7 kWh.)

  9. Andrew K says:

    I really hope BMW identifies the need to install at least 2 chargers per location. Because what is the usefulness to ‘regular’ drivers, who may be willing to wait 30 minutes to go another 80 miles, if the charger is at risk of being used for 30 more minutes before they charge. Some EV drivers may be willing to embrace the ultra-slow travel style pioneered by the Roadsters and Leafs. But most consumers won’t, it’s already a struggle to get them to embrace the 30 minutes recharging times…

    1. Dave R says:

      Definitely need at least two chargers per location. There’s a reason why Tesla installs an average of 6 plugs per location!

  10. Of note, there are a number of 20-25 kW CHAdeMO DCFC units currently available in Japan in $6-$12,000 range. A number of these DCFC connect to 220-240V power (60-80A), but they’re currently about twice the weight of the BMW charger. However given 2-3 years before the BMW is available for purchase, the size and cost of a DCFC will likely come down.

    There is also the posibility of 10-15 kW DCFC. Besides using power electronics, cheaper batteries in a few years may enable limited capacity (8-12 kWh) of fast charging (it recharges at slow rate, but offers a quick charge when needed)

    Some examples of 20-25 kW chargers.
    http://www.chademo.com/wp/chademocharger/

  11. Bill Howland says:

    This 400-480 is not so difficult to provide, either with a rotary phase converter and autotransformer in your residential garage, or even easier, for a 208 volt dealership.

    Just take a 100 amp feed off the main service, put it thru a small 25-30 kva autotransfomer (for another few $1000), and run very small (running at 480 volts) wiring out to this dc charger.

    I suspect what others have said is true, that this is much concern over not that horribly useful a product. Maybe Downtown LA could use one, but most BMW dealerships I think will suffer along with whatever existing facilities they have.

    1. shawn marshall says:

      kinda doubt the unit really needs 3 phase 480v. Can’t make 480V 3 phase from single phase with transformers. The other scheme is essentially a single phase motor running a three phase generator – that’s not likely to be very efficient. As an EE I think DC charging is a good idea and will eventually take over IF BEVs become mainstream. Makes sense to take charging weight out of the car.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Sorry, in this case you’re mistaken.. Its not a motor-generator set, and its only 66% of the power passes through one machine, not 100% of the power through 2 machines. They are around 97% efficient, and not very high cost. Rotary phase converters have been around for decades and serve a very useful purpose.

        As far as “doubting” this thing needs 3 phase, perhaps you’d like to explain where the direct current juice is supposed to come from while there is no power, which occurs 120 times per second.

        In all polyphase power, the power flow is continuous, which very definitely is *NOT* the case with power in 99.999% of American homes. (And yes, I know of exactly one mansion around here that has 3 phase power, but that’s only one)

  12. Omar Sultan says:

    Not sure how game-changing a 40A charger is at that price point. Heck, Tesla will give HPWCs free to destinations (hotels, offices, etc) what are willing to host them.

    O

  13. vdiv says:

    The idea of the DC fast charger at the dealership is to demonstrate to the interested potential buyer how rapidly the i3 can charge, so it could be more useful as a sales tool rather than a service one. If so then a 44 kW charger may be a better choice.

    Regardless BMW should make everything possible to help deploy, operate, and maintain (the last two are key) a charging infrastructure and this seems reasonable.