Some have insinuated or outright said that BMW is not very serious about its move into the electric vehicle market. I’m not on board with that idea. I think BMW is quite serious about a push into the future the automobile sector and the future of energy, and there are a number of key moves worth noting on this front.
First, here’s an important tidbit that I learned on Monday at EVS27: BMW didn’t begin its electric vehicle push until Norbert Reithofer took over as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management in 2006. The BMW i program was launched not long after in 2007. Of course, it takes time to build up a major electric vehicle program, and the competitiveness of EVs has certainly accelerated in more recent years, so it took some time for BMW to bring electric vehicles to market, but the company has definitely put a lot of time and money into developing a genuine EV side of its business. Deliveries of the BMW i3 actually just started in Europe about a week ago. Rollout of the BMW i8 will follow before too long as well.
Prior to releasing the BMW i3, the company did a lot of research and testing in the EV arena. Furthermore, it has now developed a whole suite of EV-related offerings. In North America, starting in early 2014, 360º Electric will hit the market. 360º Electric is “a portfolio of consumer-oriented offerings designed to overcome commonly perceived barriers to purchasing an electric vehicle.” It’s also a sure result of how much switching to electric vehicles can correlate to a lifestyle switch.
As part of the new program, BMW has partnered with SolarCity to offer a nice solar + EV package. However, 360° Electric is much more than that. Much of what BMW is offering has come out of its field trials and other research. It is a sign of a dedicated and comprehensive move towards electric vehicles, which is also indicated by BMW’s coming launch of the BMW i8 and current work on the BMW i5.
From BMW, here’s what is currently included in 360° Electric (image added):
BMW i Charging Station.
Combining BMW i design and reliability in the convenience of the customer’s home, the BMW i Charging Station provides a fast way to charge the BMW i vehicle. This wall-mounted charging station features an SAE J1772-compliant connector, a weather-resistant NEMA 3 enclosure for indoor and outdoor installations, and with an output capacity of 7.2 kW at 240V, the BMW i3 can be fully and safely charged in approximately 3 hours, and the BMW i8 in approximately 1.5 hours. Regardless of where the vehicle is parked, the 25 foot charging cable allows for maximum parking flexibility. Once the BMW i vehicle is plugged in, charging begins and ends automatically when fully charged.
BMW Installation Services.
Bosch Automotive Service Solutions will provide BMW i3 customers a concierge-level, customized installation of the BMW i Charging Station to ensure safe and reliable charging at their homes. A Bosch Vehicle Charging Advisor will support i3 drivers through the entire installation process, including permitting and electrical inspection. Bosch certified electricians will perform a no cost, in-home consultation and full installation services, backed by a Bosch warranty and ongoing technical support. Additionally, qualified customers will be able to finance the cost of the charging station and installation with their vehicle through BMW Financial Services.
“Our network of certified electricians has installed more than 8,000 charging stations in residential and commercial applications,” said Tanvir Arfi, Global President of Bosch Automotive Service Solutions.
“Leveraging our extensive charging infrastructure expertise, Bosch will provide the same high level of professional support to BMW i3 drivers that they’ll experience in the BMW i Centers during the purchase of this ground breaking vehicle.”
BMW Solar Energy Program.
For BMW i, the definition of premium also includes a long-term focus on sustainability paired with an immediate focus on economical energy choices. BMW has partnered with SolarCity, America’s No. 1 full-service solar power provider, to offer owners of the new BMW i vehicles exclusive access to SolarCity’s most affordable solar service option. As part of the partnership, BMW i owners will receive a 10-percent discount on SolarCity’s home solar offer with flexible financing options, including options with no upfront installation cost and 20 years of locked-in solar energy rates. The BMW i discount, offered through all participating BMW i Centers, will be available in early 2014.
ChargeNow, in cooperation with BMW i, makes it easy for BMW i drivers to find and access all publicly available charging stations on the ChargePoint network. ChargePoint is the largest public charging network in the U.S. and Canada, and will administer BMW i’s public charging program, ChargeNow. ChargePoint’s vast and expansive network of charging units will ensure that BMW i customers on the go can conveniently charge their BMW i vehicles. Using the ChargeNow card, BMW i drivers can access all publicly available charging stations on the ChargePoint network. By providing real time availability status and location information, the ConnectedDrive navigation allows BMW i drivers easy access to public charging stations.
All BMW i owners will also be provided ChargeNow cards, providing immediate access to more than 14,000 stations on ChargePoint’s growing network. BMW i owners will be able to park and charge in public parking lots or parking garages. In addition, BMW i Centers are installing ChargeNow-branded charging stations across the U.S. and Canada that are available for current and future customers, available in early 2014.
ParkNow LongTerm is an extension of the ParkNow product offer, an innovative solution for guaranteed and convenient parking. As part of the 360º Electric product portfolio it is designed specifically for BMW i drivers in select markets who do not have access to residential or workplace charging options. ParkNow LongTerm connects BMW i drivers to dedicated parking spaces with charging stations in parking garages on a long-term based rental in select cities. BMW i drivers are covered with their parking and charging needs – with ParkNow LongTerm, they will no longer have to look for monthly parking or for one-off charging options.
ParkNow LongTerm will identify the best parking options for BMW i customers and recommend to a prepared parking facility from ParkNow’s broad partner network. ParkNow LongTerm offers an easy and convenient parking spot that is pre-qualified and guaranteed in order to provide the customer with a pleasant parking experience.
Alternate Mobility Program.
For those occasional long-distance trips, BMW i is developing customized mobility solutions for your longer excursions. Whether you’re planning a long weekend getaway or a road trip vacation, BMW i will have you covered in style under the Alternate Mobility Program, planned to be available in 2014.
DriveNow, LLC will provide BMW i drivers access to BMW i’s car sharing vision. Featuring all-electric, zero-emissions vehicles, BMW i drivers can access a car anytime, simply paying by the minute. DriveNow is currently available in San Francisco, with a fleet of 100 percent BMW ActiveE vehicles that make renting convenient, premium, and environmentally friendly.
BMW i has solutions for 100 percent electric vehicle driving confidence every day, in every situation that will keep you covered seamlessly and efficiently. Many BMW i products and services, including ConnectedDrive and the BMW i Remote App, are designed to optimize your electric travel on a daily basis. And if your car actually requires technical assistance on the road, BMW Roadside Assistance provides the peace of mind of always having a response specialist on call – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
ConnectedDrive offers daily driving solutions tailored especially for BMW i vehicles. Through ConnectedDrive, BMW i vehicles come equipped with the technology to help drivers easily locate the nearest public charging stations, and if available, see their availability through the on-board navigation system. You can also use ConnectedDrive to check vehicle charging status, control the charging process, plan trips and drive more efficiently.
With the BMW i Remote App for iOS and Android, you can use your smartphone to connect with your BMW i vehicle remotely and control it from a distance. You can see your vehicle’s range, battery condition and charge levels, service messages, and location. With Charge Control, charging procedures at each station, trip planning, climate control of the passenger compartment and the high-voltage battery can all be activated remotely.
The navigation feature displays information you need to make your drive as easy as possible. At the heart of this lies the Driving Range Assistant with its dynamic range map, which takes into account relevant factors that could impact your drive, including your current battery charge level, driving style, topographic conditions or even the immediate traffic situation. ECO Route is an additional feature that helps you find the most efficient way to reach your destination. If Range Assistance determines that your destination is beyond your vehicle’s current range, it will locate a nearby charging station or suggest a more efficient route.
Maintenance & Repair Packages.
As developed exclusively for BMW i3, BMW Ultimate Service® includes an 8 year, 100,000 mile high voltage battery warranty. And as always, all new BMW vehicles come with additional premium benefits at no cost, including a 4 years or 50,000 miles warranty, 4 years or 50,000 miles maintenance program, and 4 years and unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance.
BMW Roadside Assistance.
If your car actually requires technical assistance on the road, BMW Roadside Assistance offers a range of technical services to provide help as quickly as possible. With the reassurance that a response specialist is only a phone call away, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, BMW i drivers can take advantage of peace of mind around the clock.
“BMW is currently the only automotive manufacturer offering such a comprehensive plan for consumers to cover their individual electric mobility needs beyond their vehicles,” BMW notes.
I’ll have much more from EVS27 coming your way in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
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