BMW i3 at DC fast-charging stationEnlarge Photo
When it comes to electric cars, automakers have to manage not only designing, building, and selling the vehicles, but also the buildup of infrastructure.
Companies like Nissan and Tesla are overseeing the construction of networks of DC fast-charging stations to make battery-electric cars more attractive to customers.
BMW also has ambitious electric-car plans, but so far it hasn't said a great deal about its plans to expand fast-charging infrastructure compare to some of its rivals.
That's apparently going to change in 2015, as AutoGuide reports that BMW is planning a charging station blitz.
Next year will be the "year of infrastructure," BMW electric-car strategist Jacob Harb said in an interview with the site.
BMW i3Enlarge Photo
The company has a plan to significantly expand the network of DC fast-charging stations that recharge using the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) fitted to its i3 electric car.
That standard is supported by all U.S. and German carmakers, but thus far there are far fewer quick-charging stations that offer CCS charging than there are CHAdeMO stations, which fast-charge the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Kia Soul EV.
BMW isn't saying how many public charging stations it plans to install just yet, but it plans to make an announcement on the subject at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in January.
That echoes comments Harb made at last month's Los Angeles Auto Show, where he said fast charging will be standard on the 2015 BMW i3.
The decision to make fast-charging standard for the i3's second model year was apparently made for two reasons. First, many customers opted to include it; and second, BMW seemingly feels more confident that it will be able to support the feature going forward.
To ensure that, the German carmaker may have to undertake an infrastructure campaign rivaling the scope of Nissan's for the CHAdeMO standard, or Tesla's construction of a network of stations that use its own Supercharger standard.
Unlike Tesla, however, which spaces its stations at roughly 200-mile increments, CCS stations would likely have to be spaced at perhaps 50 miles apart--given the 81-mile range of the battery-electric BMW i3.
BMW i3Enlarge Photo
BMW did unveil its own CCS-standard charging station this past summer, claiming its relatively compact size will make installation easier.
The station costs around $6,500 for "authorized BMW partners" and can recharge an i3 battery pack to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes.
BMW also offers a suite of electric-car support services--including streamlined access to stations on the ChargePoint network--under the ChargeNow umbrella.
Yet even though all of the pieces seem to be available, actually funding the construction of public charging stations hasn't been something BMW has said much about.
Harb's departure from BMW was announced the day after the AutoGuide interview was published; he has been replaced on an interim basis as electric-car strategist by BMW executive Don Smith.
As the company prepares to take a different tack, we're eager to see what this coming "year of infrastructure" holds.