BMW exec says public charging stations not important for EV success

Most users will install home charging instead.

A top BMW exec says that public charging stations are not that important for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Instead, the BMW board member believes that the installation of home chargers will determine the success of EVs.

According to report by Wards Auto, Herbert Diess says that EV owners drive mostly short distances in urban centers. They are used on average for about an hour per day, obviating the need for blanket coverage of charging stations. Diess explained that pilot tests of the Mini and 1-Series EVs show that few users needed public charging stations. He also revealed that he himself had been driving a BMW i3 for over a year, and says that he has "not once... touched public charging.”

Diess believes home charging makes much more sense, even though European cities are rushing to build public stations. Amsterdam, for example, plans to install 2,000 public chargers by the end of 2015. Still, EVs are expected to proliferate in Europe, where petrol prices have reached as high as $12 per gallon in countries like Germany and customers of the BMW i3 EV face a six-month waiting list.

In fact, most i3 customers have opted not to get the optional range extender, a 0.6-liter two-cylinder petrol generator that recharges batteries rather than drives the wheels. The 34hp engine adds $3,850 to the i3's 41,350 price tag. Diess says he prefers his i3 without the range extender as well, which adds about 330 pounds to the car's 2,365lb weight. BMW expects half of all i3 customers to forgo the range extender.

Diess made his comments at the recent Detroit Auto Show where BMW launched performance models such as the M3 and M4. Electric models like the i3 are not only greener, but required if BMW is to avoid hefty government fines for fuel economy standards that take an automaker's whole lineup into account.

Photo by Mark Elias.

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