2014 BMW i3
Buyers of the 2014 BMW i3 electric car will soon get more charging options. At least, they will if they live in California.
The German carmaker is partnering with the NRG eVgo charging network to offer free DC fast charging through 2015 at NRG's "Freedom Station" public charging sites in the Golden State.
The perk applies to 30-minute charges, which should be enough to recharge the electric BMW's 22-kilowatt-hour battery pack to 80 percent capacity.
The arrangement effectively makes NRG eVgo the second charging network in BMW's ChargeNow program, which provides users access to charging stations and other supplementary electric-car services.
Nissan Leaf electric car with eVgo quick charging station. [courtesy eVgo]
Until now, the ChargeNow card BMW issues to members of the program has only been usable at stations on the ChargePoint network. That company still administers the cards.
Giving California drivers access to two networks should lessen the need to carry multiple cards and fobs, something that's been part of electric-car ownership for the past three years.
It should also give the Nissan EZ Charge card program some proper competition.
That card, provided to new Nissan Leaf owners, allows them to charge on a number of public charging networks, including NRG eVgo.
EZ-Charge program logo
Compared to the BMW i3 electric car, Nissan Leaf drivers have a huge advantage in quick charging: A much larger number of fast-charging stations use the car's CHAdeMO standard.
Today, there are only a handful of operational DC fast-charging stations nationwide that use the Combined Charging Standard (CCS, also known as SAE Combo) built into the i3 (and also the low-volume Chevrolet Spark EV).
BMW expects NRG eVgo to open 100 more such stations in California before its free-charging offer expires at the end of 2015. Most new DC fast-charge sites are likely to offer twin cables, one for CHAdeMO and one for CCS.
BMW will also launch its own DC fast-charging station: The BMW i DC Fast Charger will be available to "authorized BMW partners" for $6,548.