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Frankfurt show: BMW charges towards better EV range

More juice: Following research gathered from its pool of 170,000 electrified vehicle customers, BMW says users are happy with a 20-minute battery charge, but they want greater driving range.

Greater driving range and faster charging the priorities for BMW’s EV development

BMW logo19 Sep 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON in Frankfurt

BMW says it is targeting a 20-minute full battery charge and a 600-700km driving range for its future electrified vehicles as it ramps up its recently announced electrification strategy.

Highlighting its plans for more EVs and the overall theme of this year’s Frankfurt motor show, BMW Group ripped the covers off its all-electric i Vision Dynamics concept that has a 600km driving range and previews an upcoming production model.

BMW Group vice president of product management BMW i and e-Mobility Dirk Arnold told Australian journalists that battery and charging technology will have advanced to a point where consumers will have far fewer reservations about buying an EV early in the next decade.

“I think the beginning of the (20) 20s,” he said at last week’s Frankfurt motor show. “So I think up to then, we will see another two, maybe three, as we say, industrialisation cycles. So updates on battery technology and cell technology.

So then we can offer ranges up to 600, 700km, which equals 500 miles roughly.

“I think that will be then definitely sufficient for almost all needs across your personal mobility. Then I think it will start with getting the weight down and of course prices down again, which happens right now also. But what we clearly see is there’s still a demand for higher ranges. The so-called range anxiety is still there.”

In terms of charging, Mr Arnold highlighted “rock star” markets such as Norway and Malaysia that have introduced infrastructure to support a wider roll out of electric cars.

He added that the advent of larger capacity batteries with higher ranges will require charging points that can adequately handle the charge.

 center imageLeft: BMW Group vice president of product management BMW i and e-Mobility Dirk Arnold

“Right now with the DC charging at highways with 50kW, that’s for the battery technology we have today and offers enough power today because you can recharge your electric vehicle within 20, 30 minutes and then you are ready to go.

“With bigger batteries – of course, imagine a 100kW battery size wise from a capacity standpoint – you definitely need 150-plus kilowatt charging points.

And we have this initiative together with other manufacturers, so called high performance charging, HPC.

“We will build up (in Europe) 400 charging stations, 350kW-plus. And with that, you will get charging times – even if you’re on the long haul going from Frankfurt to Paris – you can recharge your car, if you have a 100kW battery in 20 minutes.”

Mr Arnold said research taken from its pool of 170,000 electric vehicle customers had shown that buyers are happy with a 20-minute battery charge, as they now have learned through driving models such as the i3 to plug in and charge their car at home, the office or somewhere public like a shopping centre or mall.

“In the beginning, there was still kind of confusion – ‘How can I charge and how can I do that?’ And only by doing that day-to-day travel, commute, whatever, they learn, ‘Ah, look at that. I'm here and there’s a charging station. So I can just plug something in.’ So people learn.”

Mr Arnold said that BMW engineers are working on reducing the weight of battery packs in electric powertrains, but that the priority was on ensuring an appropriate driving range.

“Right now, we are dealing with the range. Because we see that’s actually the currency customers think about. They don’t think about weight. It’s just range.

And as long as that is the case, we are focusing on the range and the weight is a result.

“Of course, for the engineers, it’s a pretty clear and strict target to get the weight down because it influences the whole car concept and driving dynamics and everything. And I think BMW Group is well-known for quite good driving dynamics. So we have a natural interest to bring that down. But the first step as always, our first goal is the range.”

The German car-maker announced earlier this month that it would boost its electrified vehicle line-up to 25 models by 2025, including 12 fully electric vehicles.

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