Fixing the problem that should never have been a problem to begin with.
BMW may get a lot of flak for its latest design direction, but there's no denying the Munich-based brand is at the forefront of innovation. As it moves into the electric era, vehicles such as the BMW i7 continue demonstrating this ethos with cutting-edge technology and features. But soon, the brand's entire electric range will benefit from the nifty Plug & Charge function.
Instead of messing around with a charging card or a smartphone app, BMW i-car owners will be able to drive up to a charger and start topping their batteries up by just plugging in; no troublesome verification processes needed. It's a simple yet clever solution. The authentication process and billing are worked out automatically, thanks to data exchange between the vehicle and the station itself.
BMW says this will make EV charging easier than traditional refueling (we're not there yet), and says all the driver has to do is connect the charging point to the vehicle. Instead of just gleaning electricity, critical information will flow to the vehicle's electronic brain and allow everything to happen automatically. Not only does this save time, but the automaker notes it's more convenient in other ways, too.
In a multi-story parking garage, for example, cell signal is often limited. This makes charging your EV rather challenging. But the arrival of this function will relegate these issues to the past. Some of you may be wondering what the big deal is. After all, plug and charge technology has been around for a few years. So, what's the difference here?
As it stands, plug and charge functionality currently limits EV owners to one service provider. BMW's system is head and shoulders above the rest, as it allows for "multi-contract functionality." Simply put, this means EV drivers would be able to store information for at least five different providers in the vehicle. Theoretically, owners would be able to swish up to various charging stations, plug the vehicle in, and leave in search of a coffee.
However, there's one fly in the ointment - for US owners, at least. The automaker has stipulated one prerequisite - service providers need to be connected to Hubject's Europe-wide eRoaming network. Based on this, it's safe to assume this technology won't be made available to American consumers in the immediate future. BMW has plans to introduce this service to vehicles from the middle of next year.
In the meantime, the German firm will showcase its latest development at the Intercharge Network Conference on September 12. Even though CEO Oliver Zipse has said he's opposed to an outright ban on ICE vehicles, he has made sure BMW is making waves in the electric segment.
Just last week, the brand revealed a new form of battery for its upcoming Neue Klasse vehicles, and it sounds promising. BMW claims the new variant - similar in execution to Tesla's 4680 batteries - will reduce charging times, improve range, and have less impact on the environment.
While there are a lot of issues to still work out, electric vehicles are becoming more practical and are slowly shedding their drawbacks. Maybe one day, charging an electric vehicle will be as easy as refueling an ICE car. BMW's latest advancement shows there's hope.