Details On Tesla’s “Secret” Meeting With BMW

JUN 18 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 31

Was Elon Musk At This Secret BMW-Tesla Meeting?  It Seems Nobody Knows The Answer To This Question

Was Elon Musk At This Secret BMW-Tesla Meeting? It Seems Nobody Knows The Answer To This Question

With Toyota and Daimler already involved, why not bring BMW into the mix?

That’s apparently what Tesla Motors is trying to do now, as both Tesla and BMW have confirmed that a meeting took place between the automaker on Wednesday June 11.

BMW issued this purposely vague statement on the matter:

“Both companies are strongly committed to the success of electromobility and discussed how to further strengthen the development of electromobility on an international level.”

Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the news of the meeting public on Thursday in a conference call in which he discussed Tesla open sourcing its patents.  Here’s what Musk stated on the call:

“For high-speed charging in particular, I think that’s a great area for commonality among manufacturers. In fact, the team from BMW was visiting Tesla last night. We talked about potential ways to collaborate, and one of them was on the Supercharging network. We’re more than happy to have other manufacturers use our Supercharging network and / or to build superchargers and install them, and then maybe have some sort of cross-use agreement.”

According to Forbes, Musk explained the purpose of the meeting as follows:

“He said that Tesla was meeting with BMW as recently as yesterday to discuss various matters, and the idea of opening technology was already on the table. Tesla has mentioned from the beginning that its high-speed Supercharger network would be available to other car companies so long as they built compatible cars and paid a “reasonable cost share, proportionate to usage” of the network.”

“Musk suggested it might even be possible for BMW or another carmaker to construct their own compatible network of chargers and the companies could share them under an agreement. In addition, he suggested BMW build its own giant battery Gigafactory, as Tesla is doing to help push its own costs down.”

Per Automotive News:

“BMW said the meeting had taken place on Wednesday but declined to comment in detail about the nature of the talks, or about which BMW executives had met with Tesla.”

Could The Meeting Have Been Something Supercharger Related?

Could The Meeting Have Been Something Supercharger Related?

Here how Reuters reports on the “secret” meeting that’s no longer secret:

“Executives from German carmaker BMW and U.S.-based Tesla Motors Inc met this week in a move which could lead to the creation of charging stations usable for different types of electric cars.”

“BMW and electric carmaker Tesla are seeking ways to raise the popularity of battery-powered vehicles, which consumers have shunned due to their limited operating range, the scarcity of charging stations and the time it takes to recharge them.”

As we all know, BMW supports the CCS fast-charging standard, which is supported by approximately one dozen chargers in the US. Meanwhile, Tesla’s fast-charging standard is Superchargers (nearly 100 in the US). BMW i3 owners, in general, are eagerly awaiting a CCS rollout in the US. However, this rollout is describe as being “painfully slow” and “taking forever” by more than one i3 owner, so a tie-up with Tesla on this front would be well received from the community of BMW electric owners, provided that some functionality could be added to existing BMW EVs.

CCS Is Rather Common In Europe, But Largely Non-Existent In the US

CCS Is Rather Common In Europe, But Largely Non-Existent In the US

Source: Forbes & Automotive News & Reuters

Categories: BMW, Charging, Tesla

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31 Comments on "Details On Tesla’s “Secret” Meeting With BMW"

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I can’t imagine BMW being interested in adopting Tesla’s charging connector. If they really were interested in doing that they would have approached Tesla before they launched the i3 & i8. I also think developing a connector so they could use Superchargers is also a long shot because they would have to pay Tesla a LOT per vehicle for access, I figure at least $2,500 per car.

What I could see is Tesla allowing BMW to install their CCS Fast Chargers on Tesla Supercharger sites. Tesla would obviously be paid and would probably want some other technology sharing agreement in place (maybe CFRP tech?). This could be done rather quickly and could add about 100 CCS sites on the map within the year. Perhaps Nissan joins and the units the are are the dual head fast chargers.

Holger

Tom – CCS and SC use the same protocol, so you could just change the plug or use a simple adaptor. The reason Tesla has its on connector is CCS connector didn’t exist when Tesla needed one.
One overlooked detail is that Elon said the cars have to be able to accept 135 kW… the CSS is limited to 200A ( 270 A with tricks ) and SC delivers 350+ A. ( the CCS kW spec is for 600 V batteries which nobody has ).
This is not for the i3 or other current generation electrical cars ( they can’t go from SC to SC as the distance is too large), but future 200+ miles offerings from traditional car makers.

David

Do you have a source to support this statement?
There may be similarities, but I find it highly unlikely that CCS and SC use exactly the same protocol and only a plug change is needed.

David

Heres a link http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/16470-SAE-J1772-DC-(Combo)-Connector-Adapter-for-Model-S/page9?p=630017&viewfull=1#post630017 where the protocols are discussed. The statement in this post is that the protocols are NOT the same. Substantial hardware and software changes are necessary.

JakeY

That thread determined the protocol as currently used is not the same, but it didn’t determine of the car could support CCS. The first half of the handshake is the same as J1772, so it’s possible the car can natively support CCS (even if it needs a firmware update). If you look farther in the thread, the people trying to dissect the supercharger protocol haven’t had a chance to test out a CCS handshake yet.

I have heard that is the case but it still doesn’t get around how much Tesla would charge BMW for Supercharger access. They currently charge their own customers $2,000 for it, what would you think they would charge customers of another brand? It would have to be at least $2,500 to $3,000 per vehicle and I just don’t see BMW paying that. It would cost them much less to just support the buildout of CCS, especially if they partnered with another OEM that uses it. Or, they could partner with Nissan and install dual head fast chargers everywhere.

Brian

Why can’t BMW (or Nissan, etc) pass on the cost to the customer? If I were buying a GenII Leaf (with rumored 150 mile range option), I would most likely throw in the $2k-$3k supercharger access option. It just makes the car that much more usable.

Of course they would have to pass it along to the customer. Why would you rather have Supercharger access if you have a LEAF? There are nearly ten times the amount of CHAdeMO stations in the US than Superchargers and they are continuing to install them at a much faster pace.

It would make much more sense for BMW and Nissan to partner up and install a network of dual head fast chargers (or develop connectors for CHAdeMO to CCS. They could even get some of the other OEMs to join in.

Lets say BMW agreed to pay Tesla $3,000 per car and they sell 10,000 cars per year (a reasonable amount). After 5 years they have paid Tesla $150,000,000 and Tesla still controls all the superchargers and owns the network. For $150,000,000 each, BMW and Nissan blanket the country with 5,000 to 6,000 DCQC stations.

Tom – I fully agree with your views. Tesla is increasingly finding itself stranded alone by the roadside, while the other EV makers are forging alliances in creating a common charging infrastructure.
Now, Tesla wants in. Tesla cannot build charging stations everywhere there is Tesla car running, now that they are selling to all corners of the world. There are complaints from Canadian model S owners that Tesla hasn’t built their promised SC network in Canada.

TomArt

Tesla can’t use these pathetic charging systems – big, bulky plugs that can’t provide the charging rate. Tesla developed their own system because they are at least 10 years ahead of the slow and inefficient “competition”.

muchski

I think Chademo and CCS are too old tech to waste money on for massive future rollouts. The supercharger standard has so much more headroom for future improvements in charge rate. I mean in less than two years they have gone from 90 kW to 135, they’ve increased the charge rate by 50% which is incidentally is close to the 50 kW charge rates of the other guys. 50 kW won’t cut it for the future hence why I think Chademo and CCS massive rollouts are a waste of time and money. Tesla will probably move up to 200 kW or more in the next few years allowing an 80% charge of a big 85 kW pack in 15-20 mins. They have even hinted that 5-10 mins could be doable in the not too distant future!

Again, go for the best tech that is the most future proof. Chademo may cut it for 25 kWh or less battery packs for intermediate trips today but will be a snail on the 40+ kWh battery packs that will be much more commonplace in the next 3-5 years!

Bonaire

This seems to be a way for Telsa to build out their supercharging network – by proxy. Instead of Tesla building 200 in Europe, they can partner with BMW who builds 100 and Nissan to build 50 and then Telsa build 50. Getting others to build your proprietary network is one way to do it if you really cannot afford to build it to the scope originally planned. Call me negative but seriously, Tesla touted their charging superiority for years and now they want to offer a way for others to build out the network for them by-proxy? This is a bit alarming for a firm who has had their wall street handlers pumping them up as disrupting a Trillion dollar industry and building 500,000 cars a year by 2020. Maybe this is a sign of higher-than-expected costs being a hindrance for near-term growth and the only way to telegraph that is to find such partners.

TomArt

Not likely. It’s just faster and more efficient to pool resources. Tesla will build out exactly what they said they will build out. It just takes longer that way.

And, the charge tech is far, far, far, superior to the small-minded fools that designed charging protocols that can’t handle half of what the SCs can deliver with a plug twice to three times as big! Pathetic.

Lad

CCS is a red herring introduced by SAE(read GM here) to actually slow down EV development by introducing complication into the standards community. The same thing is taking place with the FCV introduced in 1997 by the AAM. The idea is to not sell EVs but maximize ICE car sales and sell oil based fuels as long as possible. These guys could care less about people’s health, they are worried about losing control of the energy and car markets. And, they know that will happen if EVs catch on.

BMW and Nissan and in fact any EV, can be adapted to use Tesla’s QC network; takes a bit of engineering and an agreement, that’s all.

I note the CEO of BMW wants to reduce overhead costs. Can’t think of a better way than to share EV IP with other car companies.

Sublime

I think having the other manufacturers add to the network is the way to go. I’m sure Tesla has a metric based on the number of 60 and 85 SC capable cars they produce, how many chargers they need. Share the schematics and source code for the chargers and have them keep that same quota for the cars they add to the road.

Alok
I’d divide EVs in 3 categories, for practicle purposes: – Short range (SR) BEVs – Long range (LR) BEVs – PHEVs (including EREVs) Both current SR BEVS and PHEVs can take only low power charges. Besides, the short range wo The Superchargers’ network has been reserved (quite rightly, I’d say) by Tesla to his own and other brands’ potential fast charging EVs, i.e. those who can take the 135 kW and growing charging power of the Superchargers. This rules out current short range BEVs and PHEVs (in particular, therefore, the i3 and the i8). Instead, they might be of utmost importance for potential (hopefully soon to come) future long range BEVs by companies other than Tesla (as well as, of course, for Tesla’s). For these (think of, for example, a long range BEV BMW i5, or Audi, Mercedes, Porsche…) even a dense network of 100 kW CCS chargers would not cut it. They need more power to reduce inconvenience to their customers, especially in the case of luxury automakers. I’d really love if they could all build their own networks of chargers all identical to the Superchargers (same standard – connector, protocol, …), maybe with a different name, and have… Read more »
Alok

(typo in row 5…)

pjwood

The current, and location, of L3 will ultimately be similar issues between the two. The protocols will get worked out. BMW has the same issue Tesla does, if it wants to move faster than GM, VW, etc, within the CCS crowd. My bet is the meeting was to find mutual options that might help BMW carve a distinct, and faster, path for the i-series. I don’t think it changes Tesla’s plan much. To me, its another good sign BMW is not about to lay an egg with a long series of small-battery PHEVs, like ahem.

Andrew K

I’ll just make up something here. See what you think:

The agreement settles on one or all of three things.

Batteries. Charging. Carbon.

BMW wants to make the i-brand as big or bigger than MINI. This will require a larger car. A bigger battery. They will run into the same cost/supply issues as Tesla. BMW needs reliable cheaper batteries. Thus they could be interested in the Giga-Factory developments. Tesla also has a lot of expertise in design large packs that have great safety and thermal management, another point of sharing.

Charging, could be Supercharger stuff for a future offering?

Carbon fiber. Tesla needs to drop the weight of future cars, significantly, the Model S weighs as much as a 7-series. 4600lbs. And it is already all aluminum. The only way to go is CFRP. BMW has perfected the press-based production of CFRP parts. It is extremely fast compared to the traditional methods. (Compare i3 production videos to that of the McLaren carbon tubs, or a Koenigsegg, or 787.)

So one of these areas seems like the obvious points of sharing/licensing technology.

Ivo Aroso

I think it is much more difficult for Tesla to develop low weight solution (like CFRP) than for BMW to develop bigger batteries (in fact other manufacturers have done so for buses and some Chinese autos).

Then, if so, who would benefit more from sharing these technologies?

Tesla for sure

Tesla would benefit significantly more for various reasons. They would demand “licensing” fees for use of their SC Network, no doubt.

Developing bigger batteries isn’t difficult because Tesla doesn’t develop batteries. They buy them from Panasonic and assemble them into packs. So development would be on an assembly to carry and maintain battery temperatures. That could be knocked out quickly and cheaply.

Tesla doesn’t have the resources to develop their own CFRP manufacturing tech. This is the most valuable asset BMW has, the ability to fabricate low cost and high volume CFRP. Additionally, because BMW probably has patent after patent to protect their fabrication process, that makes it more difficult for Tesla (or any other car manufacturer) to develop their own CFRP construction methods without violating BMWs patents. Look how expensive the VW XL1 is in comparison using traditional CFRP fab methods.

So the question then becomes, does BMW license their manufacturing techniques to Tesla (or other manufacturers) or supply molded parts?

Tesla desperately needs BMW’s carbon fiber body! model S is so overweight, it needs to be on the “biggest looser” show to shed any weight it can.

It’s the battery that is heavy. Carbon fiber isn’t much lighter than aluminum. 0.065lbs/in^3 vs 0.095lbs/in^3

zoe-driver

Lots of CCS in Europe are 20kw CCS. Just my 2 cents …

Malcolm Scott

I don’t think that we should conflate the propriety SC connector standard/protocols with SC infrastructure network in our discussions. They are two distinct issues for potential discussion by Tesla with others.

The proprietary SC connector standard is also not the Tesla universal solution. We should not limit this discussion to the US experience/context as the market is much greater.

What connector standard is Tesla using in China?

I still think that DC fast charging standard based on an extended but interoperable with AC Type 2 (single and 3 phase) standard that Tesla uses for non North America and Japan markets has great industry and EV market value for global harmonisation of the standards. There has to be a reason why Tesla has not adopted Combo in it’s two forms in new markets.

Bonaire

With enough chargers out there – maybe 5,000 in the USA – the size of cars’ batteries can be much smaller. Maybe 35 to 40 kWh maximum. If I were to drive 400 miles, I don’t mind recharging 2-3 times during the run to drive a lighter-weight car. A123 cells can be charged at 5C – that is full charge in about 12 minutes. There is no need for 85 kWh packs in cars. The need is fast recharge cells in the 2-3C range at minimum. Anyone can put 85 kWh in a car and call it “right” – but the number of cells needed to build millions of cars is enormous. Less batteries per car gets more people into the cars.

That will indeed be great. This is exactly what I’ve also thought many times. We need 5 minute fast charge network for EVs, so every BEV can occasionally drive long distance (with some pain) if needed.
This might qualify some BEVs for higher credits from CARB in California, as one of the requirements now is a quick charge capability.

I don’t think 5000 is enough if you keep EV ranges under 100 miles. Realistically that would be 80 or 90 miles since you are not going to eek it out for the last mile comfortably. This mean we would need to have chargers every 80 or 90 miles in the US. Just to put this into perspective, there are 165,000 gas stations in the US.

Personally, if I’m on a 400 mile trip, I would not want to stop every 80 miles, but to each their own.

Curtis Ling

great now toyota is taking over/ collaborating with everyone
mazda (mazda 3 hybrid)
subaru (BRZ)
bmw (future car)
tesla (rav4 ev)

Elon Musk clearly spelled out his expectations with other manufacturers concerning the Aupercharger network.

Since many (most) of the small number of CCS stations are low powered compared to Superchargers (20-50kW compared to 120 – 150kW), any company remotely serious about EV’s like BMW that has no widespread quick charge network would be CRAZY to not be on the Supercharger network.

It’s a bit different for Nissan, which is the world leader in volume and infrastructure, and yet they seem interested, too (wisely so, IMHO).

Superchargers should be the standard, without question, and the sooner that CCS is dumped, the better. If BMW jumps over to Supercharger, I absolutely GUARANTEE that the CCS charade will die fast.

Very fast.

CHAdeMO, for better or worse, will likely hold on for the next generation or so.

TomArt

Agreed.