Testing 50 kW CCS With BMW i3

3 years ago by Peder Norby 17

BMW i3 Grabbing Some Electrons

BMW i3 Grabbing Some Electrons

28 hours to 4 hours to 30 minutes. The future is arriving fast!

Julie (my wife) and I are loving our our BMW i3’s. As a Mini-E driver, then an ActiveE driver and now both of us i3 drivers, I can say to you with experience and certainty the future is arriving fast!

Sungas 2 sucking the high “shocktane” juice in Carlsbad.

Each generation of BMW cars beginning with the Mini-E has allowed more flexibility and a greater radius of usability. In the Mini-E days it was a proprietary plug. Essentially it was either charge at home, find a friend with a Mini-E and share their home charger (this was very popular among Mini-E drivers) or use your 110 cable.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on Peder’s blog.  Check it out here.

With the Active E it was standardized level 2 charging that allowed us to venture further from home base often stringing together locations with an overnight hotel stay to charge up. It was a 5 hour recharge time for the Active E.

Now with the BMW i3 we are in the fast DC charge world. Already in just a few short months we have traveled past LA and gone much farther and faster with just a short 20-30 minute charge to 85%.

The technology is simple amazing and greatly increases the flexibility of the electric car. It’s just a little easier to use now and the planning for a major road trip is getting easier each day.

Currently there are 5 CCS chargers in Southern California however by the end of the year there will be over a dozen.

This weekend in Carlsbad, Ca which is my home city, the fifth and newest CCS charger was put into service by NRG EVGO Freedom Stations located at the Carlsbad Premium Outlet Stores

Here is a review of the station and my use of the station on 09/16/2014:

50 kW CCS

50 kW CCS

The Station is an ABB Chademo or CCS 50KW Charger.

Time To Charge Up

Time To Charge Up

I arrived at the station with less than 1/4 charge with 14 miles showing. I plugged in at exactly 8:15am.

Welcome Screen

Welcome Screen

This is the welcome screen. The rfid card reader was not activated yet so all I had to do is touch the screen for pump 2. An important tip, after a few minutes of information display, the screen will revert back to this screen. The charging cable is locked to your car and the charging continues. To get back to the information screen at any time simple touch the pump 2 button and it will go back to an active information screen where a stop charging touch button (see picture below) is located that will stop the charging and release the charging cable from your car.

Nearly Full

Nearly Full

In 15 minutes exactly I charged from 23% to 80%, an increase of 57%.

Almost Charged

Almost Charged

In 22 minutes I went from 23% charge to 85% charge, an increase of 62%.



I unplugged at exactly 30 minutes. I went from 23% charge to 91% charge an increase of 68%. The first 15 minutes of charging delivered 57% and the last 15 minutes of charging delivered an additional 34% as the charger slowed down at around 85%.


With this 50kw ABB charger it is possible to go from near zero to 85% charged in about 25 minutes. In my test, I arrived at 23% indicated and it went to 80% in 15 minutes and 85% in 22 minutes. It’s just a guess but the tapering off begins somewhere between 80% and 85%.

This location is great before 10:00 am and after 9:00 pm with lots of food and drink options nearby with an uncrowded parking lot. Its a keystone location connecting Orange County to San Diego County.

When the Premium Outlet Stores open at 10am, the story changes a bit as the center is extremely popular and many cars will be using the charging station. Last week I saw a Tesla “T-iceing” the location by simply parking in the EV charging space and not charging. I’ve also seen the spots with gas cars parked there as parking during a day is scarce.

So if you plan to charge from 10 am to 9 pm be prepared with a plan B as you might be disappointed by a lack of availability at this popular location.

The future is arriving fast. In Carlsbad, the future is here, in my garage and at the Carlsbad Premium Outlet Center.

It’s amazing.

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17 responses to "Testing 50 kW CCS With BMW i3"

  1. GSP says:

    I hope you left a note for the Tesla owner blocking the charger. Shameful.


    1. scottf200 says:

      Did they change the picture on you because I don’t see what you are talking about.

      1. taser54 says:

        “When the Premium Outlet Stores open at 10am, the story changes a bit as the center is extremely popular and many cars will be using the charging station. Last week I saw a Tesla “T-iceing” the location by simply parking in the EV charging space and not charging. I’ve also seen the spots with gas cars parked there as parking during a day is scarce.”

        Someone should create a roll of stickers to put on the windshield of cars blocking chargers. Then post a picture on a twitter account publically shaming them. Something like #NOchargeNOpark

        1. wraithnot says:

          If you see a Tesla blocking a charging spot and not charging, I’d suggest posting the info to the teslamotorsclub website. Here are two threads on that topic:


          1. Peder says:

            Thanks for the links. As I mentioned, I see gas cars there parked as well although less and less. Unfortunately in all brands including BMW, there are a few inconsiderate folks. This particular time it just happened to be a Tesla.

          2. ELROY says:

            I have seen Tesla blocking my Chademo only charging station at the Camarillo outlets. Parked while not even plugged in at the Westfield Topanga, and the Santa Monica Promenade. Do these people actually think EV only parking entitles them to park when not even charging?

    2. DaveMart says:

      Tesla paintwork must be wonderfully scratchproof!

      All I can say is, not in my hood! :-0

  2. DaveMart says:

    In every respect but the critical one of battery energy density the BMW i3 clearly leads the Tesla:

    The figures given there don’t tell the whole story of the greater energy efficiency of the BMW though, as extra weight correlates pretty well with more energy to manufacture, and the Tesla weighs nearly twice what the BMW does.

    What is lacking is the battery, and we will have to wait and see whether Samsung can match what it seems LG Chem has in prospect, of approximately doubling energy density, which clearly would transform the i3.

    1. Stimpacker says:

      If you’re a family guy like me, you’ll immediately notice that the BMW i3 is lacking in range and the rear suicide doors are an inconvenience.

      But yes, overall, it has more tech.

      Peder, can you please share your charging costs?

    2. Mint says:

      “as extra weight correlates pretty well with more energy to manufacture”

      Not when you use vastly different materials, like CFRP. Carbon fiber needs about 700 MJ/kg to manufacture:

      Steel is ~20MJ/kg, while aluminum is about 155:

      Of course, the applicability of these numbers depend on how much of the i3’s CFRP is resin and how much is CF, but the point is that a generalization about energy use by looking at weight alone is stupid.

      Your comparison between the Model S and i3 is similarly inane, as they aren’t even in remotely the same size class. As per the EPA, the i3 is a subcompact while the Model S is a large car. It has twice the cargo space, seating for 5 instead of 4, and its gasoline competition is >4000-lb, >400hp full-size performance sedans, not Mini Coopers.

  3. kdawg says:

    Is it free to charge, or what does it cost?

    Do they have signs saying they will tow if not charging? Seems like those are the best at scaring off icers.

  4. ELROY says:

    You may be interested to know that yesterday they had a crane lowering a DC comboccharger at the Thousand Oaks mall freedom station, Camarillo premium outlet stores, and the Woodland Hills Hines Center are already being prepared. Tons of Freedom stations around here.

  5. Peder says:

    When I wrote this a week or so ago, this was the fifth CCS in So-Cal, today there are 7 or 8 ( I think the one in Riverside at a private residence is a mistake. )

    I have heard from EVGO that the number for So-Cal will be 20-40 by the end of the year, Of course Nissan Leaf drivers have been enjoying many Chademo chargers for a long time now.

    Most of these CCS units will be free to use for BMW i3 drivers at least until the end of 2015 as part of the chargenow program. Some of the chargers are not connected to that program and charge $5 a session.

    Some of the chargers are also 25kw versions but most are 50kw with the 25kw taking 20% to 30% more time to charge.

    It’s stall far more convenient for me to charge at home 95% of the time, but when we are out and about these chargers are wonderful!

  6. Peder says:

    The Thousand Oaks location is very exciting for us as that will now open up the possibility of going from San Diego to Santa Barbara!

    Thanks for the good news!

  7. Anderlan says:

    Nice iPhone cover 🙂

  8. wraithnot says:

    I’ve done a fair amount of datalogging with our Model S using a reverse-engineered version of the Tesla iPhone app created by various Tesla enthusiasts (e.g. http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/19377-1-100-mile-road-trip-to-Las-Vegas-and-back-with-a-REST-datalogger)

    My wife just bought a BMW i3 last weekend and we’re thinking of thinking of testing out the CCS charger at Point Reyes Station to try it out. Does anyone know if there is a similar datalogging tool for the BMW i3?

  9. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Just saw a BMW i3 charging at my local L2 stations today. Neat.

    Also, saw an i8 yesterday on the hwy 101. Sweet looking car…