Op-Ed: How Fast Charging Will Increase BMW i3 Sales

MAR 16 2015 BY STAFF 61

Recently, I wrote to you kind folk about how the BMW i3, and its technology and range anxiety, scared most people away from buying it. Range anxiety is an issue for all EVs and not just the i3, and it’s an understandable fear. However, BMW will soon make life a bit easier for its i3 buyers.

BMW has recently announced, at the Washington Auto Show, its plans to join forces with, German rival, Volkswagen and, EV charging giant, ChargePoint, to develop a network of DC Fast Chargers throughout the country. ChargePoint already has 20,000 locations throughout North America and plans to fill in the gaps as strategically as possible, so that, amongst the most traveled roads on the East and West coast, charging stations are no more than 50 miles apart.

The plan is for 100 ChargePoints to be allocated on I-95, from Boston to D.C, and a route which will connect Portland, San Francisco, L.A and San Diego.

These charge points will be placed near shopping malls and restaurants, so as to keep motorists busy as they wait for their i3 or eGolf to charge. These ChargePoints will consist of either 50 kW DC Fast Chargers or 24 kW Combo fast chargers with both SAE combo connectors and 240v, level 2 AC connectors. An i3 can charge up to 80% battery in 20 minutes on a 50 kW connection, which is enough time get a quick bite to eat while you charge up.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on BMWBLOG by Nico DeMattia. Check it out here.

express charging infographic 4539 750x580 How Fast Charging Will Help BMW i3 sales

CCS Charging Infographic

“This project is another important step in the development of the U.S. e-mobility infrastructure that makes longer distance travels a real option for consumers.” Says Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure for BMW NA.

The idea is to make an fast-charging super network, similar to Tesla’s, to make traveling in electric vehicles a far simpler, and more common, idea. The removal of range anxiety, or at least the reduction of it, will create a much better environment for EVs to thrive.

California is already littered with ChargePoint stations and is a leader in EV sales. However, that last part may have more to do with a green image Californians need to exude. Nevertheless, those ChargePoint stations have proven to be quite successful and, if adopted throughout the country, could springboard cars like the i3 into the mainstream.

The first step was just made in Kansas City where KCP&L and ChargePoint will install 1,000 charging stations. Atlanta Metro area could be next since it holds a large number of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

While battery technology advances and gets ready for mainstream, the infrastructure is the one single thing that can speed up the adoption of electric vehicles.

Categories: BMW, Charging

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

61 Comments on "Op-Ed: How Fast Charging Will Increase BMW i3 Sales"

newest oldest most voted

Can we replace “range anxiety” with “range uncertainty”?

Anxiety sounds like a psychological problem, while the real issue is merely technical. No matter the range of your car, if you can count on exactly what it says your range is, there is literally zero to be anxious about.

I don’t think we should try to sugar coat it with some term that covers up what is the real thing wrong. In that range uncertainty sounds like you could make it or you can’t.

Range Anxiety or Range fear makes more sense in that you know you are going to have trouble with charging or you can’t get there.

This is exageration, “fear” or “anxiety” would be adequate speaking of a plane.

Is that why you still drive a Prius since you have the range anxiety…

Well for me I might getting a EV sooner rather then later. In that the prices of them have crashed into the $8000’s. Also they have started a massive Chamo DC quick charger construction project that will cover half my state and half my home city in DC quick chargers for EV’s. The quick chargers are also at places I can use.

The Quick chargers do a lot more for my range fear in that at least I know I won’t get stuck in a area for ten hours trying to charge up.

I don’t think “range uncertainty” is a sugar coat at all. I think it is a more precise statement of the problem.

If the range display on the car is correct, you don’t >fear< you will run out before you get to your destination. Either you will make it or you won't, and you know this beforehand.

Right now it's not like that. Remaining range is something of a mystery. You need to guesstimate the effect of various conditions in your route ahead. Are you going to go uphill? Is the temperature dropping? How much does the car weigh right now? Do you have a head wind? Tailwind? Will it remain so during the rest of your trip?

Nobody calculates this precisely in their head. You kind of guess it and if the trip is borderline you either hope for the best (and risk fear) or you charge to make sure (and possibly waste time if you didn't really need the charge).

A precise range value eliminates this problem. You know if you need to charge and exactly how much to charge. No guessing, no fear.

Nah, anxiety is a lot better suited since it is a psychological factor causing it. Even knowing the exact range, which many of the BEV’s can do very spot on, will stress people out since most peoples brains are wired to keep a safe buffer to possible problems.

The traditionall buffer for ICE’s have been 50 km or more of range left. A bit over the top when having more exact measurements but still pretty valid.

So BEV’s need to have quite a lot more range before they really go mainstream.

Mikael said: “Even knowing the exact range, which many of the BEV’s can do very spot on…” You know, this sort of completely unrealistic claim is precisely the sort of thing we EV enthusiasts do -not- need. No BEV’s onboard computer is capable of precisely predicting all factors affecting range. Even if it’s a pleasant day with no need for temperature control, even if the computer has all the data needed for the energy used in any altitude changes, even if the driver stick precisely to your planned route with no detours or last-minute stops, there’s no way the computer can predict the precise speed you’ll be driving at every moment, especially if you encounter a traffic jam. Nor can it predict random fluctuations in head- or tail-winds. The only way any range calculator could -guarantee- you’ve got sufficient charge for a trip near the limit of a BEV’s range would be to deliberately underestimate the available range. We EV enthusiasts should be upfront about the realities of range anxiety. If we pretend that it’s not a real problem, and manage to convince buyers it’s not, the backlash against EVs from angry, mislead owners would be huge, and would significantly… Read more »

Uncertainty causes anxiety. You’re splitting hairs.

I agree that uncertainty causes anxiety. That’s the point. Anxiety is not caused by more or less range or by any other factor. So if you get rid of uncertainty you get rid of anxiety.

I have press-conference anxiety that will last until 9 AM PST Thursday morning. 😀

I don’t have range uncertainty. I can do math.

BMW seems much more intent on publicizing this plan and is not as aggressive about implementing it on the east coast. This article seems to recycle old news without any additional new information, say about a plausible timetable. Does anyone have any real news about when these DC chargers are due to start appearing on I95 -say between DC and Delaware?

So will the west coast corridor in California be I5 or the 101, or, far better, both? I really wish they’d answer this question. Time to move beyond goals and promises to infrastructure installation.

They will increase sales when they offer a 200 mile version along with the upcoming 200 mile Bolt and upcoming 150-200 mile upgraded Leaf. Otherwise all the fast chargers in the world won’t help sell them if the customer can choose an EV with 100 miles more range for $10k less.


I’d like to see some fast charge stations connecting our Texas Triangle of Dallas, Houston,and Austin. It actually wouldn’t even take very many stations to accomplish it, either.

I’m with you David.. just got a 2015 Leaf with a quick charger on Sat. and am feeling the need.

Like you say, probably would take about 25 stations at the most and it would be connected.

I have monster news in terms of DC quick charger construction in Virginia. The electric car company Greenlots last week started construction on a massive Virginia wide system of DC Chamo quick chargers. The Quick chargers will go from Richmond to the Ocean Front in Virginia. The chargers will also be 20 to 30 miles apart form one another.

CHAdeMO only or combo CHAdeMO-CCS?

Most of the quick chargers being built in Virginia are Chamo as of now. But they did built two new CSS standard ones too.

A few of these are already in the ground, as you can see on PlugShare. These are dual-standard stations.

My wife got an i3 with CCS charging last September and I have been keeping track of all the new CCS stations that have been popping up in the San Francisco bay area (especially since EVgo ones are free for i3 drivers until mid 2016). She absolutely loves driving the car and we have charged at five different CCS stations. But each location only has a single CCS charger, some of them are in poor repair, and another i3 had to wait for us to finish at the northgate mall in San Rafael. And now every time I suggest that we take her car on a trip that requires charging at a CCS station, she insists that we take my Model S instead. Until the odds are really good that you can charge at a given CCS charger location without waiting, I have to agree with her that it isn’t a very good idea to take a trip that requires them. And to give a concrete comparison, when both the dedicated CHAdeMO station and the CHAdeMO/CCS station went down, here was the response: Jeremy_eVgo a month ago Unfortunately, both CHAdeMO units are down for repairs. We are working hard on… Read more »

That’s quite a story about the Harris Ranch Supercharger.

This reminds me of the old aphorism about bacon and eggs — the chicken is involved. The pig is committed.

That does describe the situation pretty well 🙂 This happened right before Thanksgiving and the media would have had a field day with a parking lot full of angry Tesla owners stranded on their way to visit their families for Thanksgiving. Thus they did absolutely everything they could to keep that from happening. The worst that will probably happen with a broken CCS or CHAdeMO charger is a bit of grumbling on plugshare.

Here are some photos I took of the portable generators: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/38437-Harris-Ranch-is-not-working-11-18-14/page8


That’s an impressive pile of generators.

Good to hear about Tesla bending over backwards to quickly repair the entire Supercharger station and ensure that owners didn’t get stranded!

Very good description of the status of public charging.

They are being deployed completely wrong by scattering one or two about here and there – you simply can not rely on them.

EV drivers would be much better off with fewer locations of charging stations but with more plugs at those fewer locations – and make sure that they’re located in an area which is not popular to park in. Bonus points for situating the stations in a way that each plug can reach multiple parking spots.

Way too often a single hardware failure or a full parking lot ruins a trip – every EV I know has run into this situation and as a result generally avoids public charging at all costs.

Thanks for that dose of reality, wraithnot and Dave R.

BEVs with longer ranges will help the EV revolution -much- more than more public EV chargers with iffy access and iffy functionality.

25 kW is okay for short stops, and it may be as much as some of the smaller EVs can handle. Smaller bikes in theory would do fine on 25 kW too; the 12 kWh Lightning and Energica bikes can charge to 80% in 30 minutes on these chargers. All the better if these chargers can be inexpensively produced and installed on 240V single phase.

50 kW is the absolute minimum needed for mainstream acceptance of EVs for trips significantly exceeding a single charge; a 300 mile trip in a 160 mile BMW i3 mk2 w/ 30 miles of buffer would need to charge two sessions at around 90 miles each (20% => 75%), 30-35 minutes apiece @ 50 kW. Maybe one stop can be eaten up by a meal; and the other could be an extended rest stop. But double the charge time and I think most people would prefer to take another vehicle.

You’d certainly think that as more of these L3 chargers are installed, or more to the point that there is a MARKET for many of these things, that they’d come out with single phase 25 kw chargers, since there is no DC Smoothing requirement when it comes to battery packs. Some utilities also offer discounted rates for commercial customers taking single over 3 phase service, and, of course there may be several locations where a CHarger facility is wanted which doesn’t have convenient access to polyphase.

I’ve never seen one of these devices up close. What bothers me in all these articles is that someone always mentions a substantial percentage of these things are BROKEN. Since the EV charging scenario is very new, how come these things are junk already before even being really used?

For the additional $4k for the gasoline engine, I would rather BMW offered a larger battery pack with 10kWh more power and about 50 more miles of range. So with a max of 150 EV miles, this daily commuter won’t need a public charger when it’s charged at home each night.

Three years from now, 50 kW will be considered slow charging as Tesla will reserve the super-chargers for the Model 3 and roll out 300 kW Hyper-chargers for it’s high end new cars.

And those 300kW chargers will be fitted with a connector that no one but Tesla uses, so it won’t matter to anyone but Tesla owners.

People who own Samsung, HTC, Motorola, or Nokia phones don’t really care about how fast the new Lightning connector is. Lightning is only for Apple.

That is why Apple takes 80% of the profits from the smart phone market.

iPhone users don’t care about the terrible ownership experience of Samsung, HTC, Motorola, or Nokia phone owners.

I love my 9 year old Nokia Phone with original battery…

Leave my Nokia phone alone you iFan “iDiot”… =)

We had a phone that was 12 years old and was still going strong.

But for me Tesla is not a valuable alternative in that I can’t afford it. So as far as I care the Tesla Superchargers and Teslas don’t exist for me.

After taking 9 multi-day trips in a Model S, I agree with Lustuccc that 50 kW chargers would be painfully slow on a road trip. Even 90-120 kW chargers only work well if they are within walking distance of places where you might want to stop for a half hour or so even if you didn’t need to fuel your vehicle.

300 kW and a different battery chemistry that either had a higher capacity or didn’t require the power to taper off as much as the battery fills would finally start to approach the time it takes for a fuel stop + bathroom break + snack on a road trip in a conventional car.

People who own other EVs might not care too much about the Tesla stations if they can’t use them, but people deciding what type of EV to buy will certainly care about this capability if they plan to use the car for anything other than strictly a commuting vehicle.

The difference is that the BMW i3 or Golf E will be stopping every hour or so of driving to get 20 minutes of charging back up to 80%, then rinse and repeat.
Sounds like a great way to travel – not…..

I agree- it takes a high power charger AND a battery that can store enough energy to drive for several hours to make for a decent road trip experience. The top hit in google reccommends:

“Take regular fifteen minutes breaks in journeys over three hours. Aim to stop every two hours or so. This is more important if you’re not used to driving long distances.”

So ideally you’d have a battery that can store enough energy to drive for at least three hours at freeway speeds and that can replenish enough energy in 15 minutes to drive for two hours at freeway speeds. Even Tesla isn’t quite there yet- but they are a lot closer than anyone else.

Yeah, those are more or less the timings embedded in the nag nanny of my Audi.

I would have to see this to believe it. Right now, Tesla is Riding High financially.

At some point in time COST is going to have to be a consideration, and I don’t see enough people putting up the dough for this to ever transpire.

RIght now, the vast majority of Tesla Supercharger stations never use more than 500 kw at any one time. And, by the way, the largest ‘easy’ commercially available electrics for the vast majority of utilities are 2500 kw. There are places in big cities with established substations where the utilities will not even allow 500kw of added load.

So Even though everyone wants a 1000 kw hypercharger PER CAR, I don’t see this happening in view of the expense, which in the end SOMEONE has to pay.

Storing energy on site in stationary batteries will go a long way towards smoothing out the load on the grid and reducing demand charges from the utility company. If you assume stationary batteries can be built for something like $200 a kWh, the costs don’t seem too unreasonable. The 360 kWh of battery capacity at the Barstow supercharger would only cost $72,000 at $200 a kWh- Tesla spent a lot more than that building the rest of the station.

I’d like you to prove that by itemizing the costs. A 1000 kwh battery plant AND the requisite inverters for only $200,000? Please prove it. $200/kwh seems unbelievably low.

Or are you just pulling those numbers out of a hat and they have no relation to reality?

Batteries wouldn’t do much good for the busier Supercharger stations since they’d quickly deplete.

This article addresses many of the points in your original comment and your most recent comment http://ees-magazine.com/reducing-ev-charging-time-through-power-converters/

If you want to get some idea of the cost of these “buffer batteries”, the battery cells in the Model S have been estimated to cost in the $240-$280 kWh range http://www.torquenews.com/2250/what-makes-tesla-s-batteries-so-great and they have a higher energy density than the stationary batteries: https://twitter.com/tmlwtl88/status/409669330662862848 so presumably the stationary batteries are a bit cheaper.

And I used 360 kWh because I’ve physically seen the battery array at the Barstow super charger and read the numbers off the labels (6 big metal boxes each labeled as 60 kWh). That’s not enough to store the energy required for a busy day at the supercharger- but it should be more than enough to “buffer” the load and minimize demand chargers which was the basis of your original comment.

The price of this is more than just the batteries, I want the prices of the inverters needed also, and then of course there’s the installed price.

The fact that both are DC is irrelevant since the pressures are different.

“…That’s not enough to store the energy required for a busy day at the supercharger…”

There are usually 2880 – 15 minute demand periods in one month. Only one 15 minute interval where all the stalls are in use and the storage battery depleted will set the demand fine for the entire month. So in that month any battery storage is wasted.

If you doubt the claims of the article I linked, you can still buy 100 kW Solectria inverters for about $26,500 each. And I imagine buying in bulk would yield a better price. It’s also pretty hard to get the absolute maximum power draw for an entire supercharging station. For an 8 stall supercharger station, you would need four cars with low states of charge to arrive nearly simultaneously and plug into unpaired stalls (each stack of 12 chargers is split between two stalls). The power ramps down pretty quickly once the state of charge gets above 35% or so (at least with my S85) so to sustain this peak load for any amount of time, those four cars would have to simultaneously unplug once the power started ramping down and then be quickly replaced by four more cars with very low states of charge. I find this extremely unlikely. When two cars share a stack of chargers, the power for the second car does ramp up over time. But at least when I’ve been in this situation, the power ramped up much more slowly than power for the first car would have ramped down and by the time the… Read more »

Well, you’re just talking in generalities and putting few numbers to your argument.

The point you are missing is all it takes is 1 20-25 minute period (or 15 minutes if youre unlucky) say from 2pm to 225 where all stalls are occupied for this very short period of time for only 1 Half hour of 1 Day of an entire month to totally zap your chance of your batteries reducing the demand charge. Batteries ‘help’ a little, but mostly by ‘a little’ moving energy usage to favorable time of day periods, and not reducing the demand fines, but that’s probably why Tesla overall only makes ‘little’ use of them, and mostly in the highest daytime energy charge areas.

A busy 8 stall station that occassionally sees 4000 kwh/day usage will only get a bit of Time-of-use benefit from 360 kwh of batteries on the energy charge, and nothing on the demand fine saving.

“A busy 8 stall station that occassionally sees 4000 kwh/day usage will only”

Judging by the supercharger dashboard, only the Freemont supercharger station sees that kind of usage: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/42800-SPOTTED-A-Daily-Photo-Thread-From-the-Hawthorne-Supercharger-Station The vast majority of the other 400 stations do not see anywhere close to that. Heck, I’m usually the only one using most of the stations I visit outside of California. 360 kWh wouldn’t be enough storage to deal with demand charges at the very busiest superchargers stations. But there are only a handful of those. If you disagree with that assessment, I’d like to see the data your basing your disagreement on.

And this concept of using batteries to lower demand charges is not just something Tesla does at superchargers. There are three different companies doing similar things:
This last company has also partnered with an EV charging company: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/would-you-like-some-energy-storage-with-that-ev-charger

Hey you’re the one making the claim. I say show me the electric bills before and after. I bet most of the saving, if any, is TOU energy, not demand.

And batteries make sense for any very intermittently large load, something that charging cars at a busy facility is *NOT*.

Looks like this has gone enough rounds that the website doesn’t allow replies to the final message. Before I take the website’s hint, I’ll reiterate that at least three different companies are claiming that battery storage can be used to meaningfully reduce utility demand charges. In one case, the company is even explicitly using it for this exact application (level three EV charging). If you think the claims of all three of those companies are false then you should probably take it up with them.

I question the claim of this guy that his units are ‘isolated’. If so he needs more power switches than a transformered unit would have, and that ‘power transfer capacitor’ would have to be a pretty good one since its getting stressed like crazy, especially at the power levels we’re talking about here. I didn’t see any actual unit, nor a price tag, nor a power level.

It seems many companies haven’t even gotten to square one on the fast chargers yet since they’re so unreliable.

Tesla, to their credit, just uses 9 or 12 of the in-car chargers to implement their system, so that the product only has to be designed for reliaility once.

There are places were unities feed power to users that can eat though several mega watts in a minute. But those places have 69 and 138 kill volt high voltage tower lines along with their own substations feeding into it.

huh? Thousands of megawatts in minutes? Do you mean thousands of megawatt – hours in minutes. So you mean like a factory.

Thousands of megawatts in minutes is nonsensical since power and energy are related but not the same and you’ve just confused them.

In any event I don’t get the point. A factory might have a 115 kv line going to it… So what?

Bill Howland said:

“So Even though everyone wants a 1000 kw hypercharger PER CAR, I don’t see this happening in view of the expense, which in the end SOMEONE has to pay.”

I’m not seeing why we would need a “hypercharger” for every individual EV. Level 2 charging is quite sufficient for home charging or destination charging. The main need for ultra-fast charging, or “hypercharging”, will be between cities, for long-distance travelers. We’ll only need a smattering of hyperchargers in urban areas, for those who forgot to charge or are running low while running around town.

The ratio of gas stations to gas guzzlers in the USA is about 2500:1, with 8 pumps being the most common number per station, so that comes out to approximately 1 pump per 312.5 gas guzzlers. Figure twice the number (per car) needed for plug-in EVs with an ultrafast charge time of 10 minutes (because even ultrafast charging wait time will be at least twice as long as gas pump wait time), but a 92.5% reduction in numbers because 90-95% of charging is slow charging at home/work.

That comes to only 1 ultrafast charger per 2083 BEVs.

Totally different issue. The Gasoline vendor is not fined for selling gasoline too fast.

Granted a hypercharger could charge many cars per day, but then there is the question of how much would a 1000 kw capable car cost? In other words how much refrigeration would be required for the battery being charged at a 1000 kw rate?

People on the volt blogs were concerned that the battery of a volt couldn’t handle 6 kw, or that the charging facilities of the car couldn’t handle the added heat. So 6 kw is too fast but 1000 kw isn’t?

I’ve had worse “range anxiety”, pulling my new GMC diesel and 39 ft. fifth wheel through Salt Lake at 11:00pm going down dead end roads because of faulty GPS directions and getting to “Gas Stations” that didn’t have Diesel, and then just limping into a station, before they closed. My lovely bride of 40 years was not to please with my “planning skills”.

I can’t imagine having the 50+’combo flat bedded to the next available Diesel Station!

By the way, I’ve never had that kind of range axniety, in 13,000 carefree miles of driving in my Nissan Leaf.

Why again would you have anxiety with the 5th wheel? Pull over at an RV park, detach trailer or spend the night, then find a station with the truck during the day. Perhaps, keep a 5 gallon jerry can of diesel in the truck bed.

As a side note those Denali dually diesels are amazing. The integrated exhaust brake makes towing a breeze.

Range anxiety isn’t just about whether or not you have enough “juice” to make it to your destination. It’s also about whether or not you’ll have to make a stop along the way to recharge; and if you do, whether or not the charger you want to use is available, and how long that recharge will take. And the term is accurate one: It is indeed anxiety that BEV drivers experience when they can’t be certain they have enough “juice” to make a trip, or worry about it enough to shut off the cabin heater on a cold day. You can’t make range anxiety disappear for a car with as limited an average range as (EPA estimated) 81 miles just by installing a few hundred, or even a few thousand, Level 2 or 3 public EV chargers. Even the Tesla Model S, with its EPA estimated 265 miles of average range, doesn’t completely eliminate range anxiety, altho between that and the SuperCharger system, range anxiety is reduced quite a lot. Again, we EV enthusiasts need to be honest about the few limitations of BEVs, as well as their many virtues. Pretending range anxiety doesn’t exist, or that the term is… Read more »

BMW’s fix for the i3 is to de-neuter their REEV motor. Bigger gas tank, mountain hold mode, and have it come on sooner. done.