BMW:“Making charging even easier and more convenient”
Munich. As an e-mobility pioneer, the BMW Group has
been closely involved with charging of electric vehicles and the
necessary infrastructure for more than a decade. The company takes a
holistic approach throughout the value chain that links together its
three main areas of focus. The aim is for charging to become even more
convenient than filling up the tank: available everywhere, easy to use
and with a high level of cost transparency.
The path to e-mobility success leads through the charging station –
which is why charging infrastructure is a management priority for the
We talked to three Board of Management members, Ilka Horstmeier
(responsible for Human Resources and Labour Relations), Pieter Nota
(responsible for Customer, Brands and Sales) and Dr Nicolas Peter
(responsible for Finance), about how the BMW Group is approaching the
issue of charging, where the advantages and potential lie, and what
role charging should play in the continuing ramp-up of electromobility.
Q: The BMW Group recently handed over
its one-millionth electrified vehicle to its new owner. One aspect
that is inextricably linked with the ramp-up of electromobility is
charging infrastructure. What is your opinion of this?
Peter: Right now, charging infrastructure is failing
to keep pace with sales of electrified vehicles. That is why we
urgently need rapid infrastructure expansion – especially in urban,
densely populated areas and over longer distances. This is also up to
policymakers: Economical operation must be ensured – and, if possible,
promoted – especially while infrastructure is still in the expansion
phase. Who’s going to build a second charging post if the first one
can’t cover its costs? But, in the long run, the market has to be able
to regulate itself in the interests of the customer. What we need for
this are clear objectives and incentive systems. The same applies to
fleet operators, to support their transition to electromobility.
Q: Can this be achieved by building
infrastructure quickly? Or are there other obstacles?
Horstmeier: Focusing on rapid construction won’t be enough in some
areas. We will clearly need a lot of public charging points in the
near future to meet growing demand. But, above all else, customers
need easy access to as many charging points as possible – with
attractive terms and conditions across the board.
Nota: Charging should be an enabler for
electromobility – and this is precisely where our BMW Charging and
MINI Charging services come in. Our customers can use a card or an app
to access more than 250,000 public charging points across Europe.
Q: 250,000 sounds like a lot of
charging points. But what about “range anxiety”? What percentage of
publicly accessible charging posts does your service even include?
Nota: With BMW Charging and MINI Charging, we have a
network coverage of 90 percent* in Europe. In other words, you can use
nine out of ten publicly accessible charging points with our card. In
the top five electromobility markets, we are even up to 95 percent*.
This makes charging easy and convenient for our customers wherever
they go. There’s no “range anxiety” with us.
Q: But there’s still the question of
price. Critics claim prices at the charging post vary greatly,
depending on the operator, and are not clearly posted for the
Nota: We ensure full cost transparency: With our
award-winning Active Tariff, customers pay a basic monthly fee to
charge their vehicle at an attractive market-specific fixed rate. In
Germany, the basic monthly fee is five euros; AC charging then costs
33 cent/kWh and rapid DC charging 39 cents/kWh. Our prices are geared
towards the price for mains electricity. Customers can also buy the
IONITY Plus package as an add-on: For a basic monthly fee of 13 euros,
they are able to charge their vehicle for 35 cents/kWh directly along
the motorway. For customers who buy a new fully-electric BMW, we waive
the basic fee for Active Tariff and IONITY Plus for one year.
Q: One aspect of charging that is often
criticised is that it takes longer than filling up the tank. What do
you say to that?
Peter: Charging is already a lot more convenient –
when our customers can charge at home. I can confirm this from my own
experience. I’ve driven a BMW i3 that I hook up to my wallbox at home
for several years now. Every morning, I get into a fully charged
vehicle. That’s why we offer our customers a variety of home-charging
solutions, as well as installation service and a green electricity
tariff. With us, you get everything from a single source.
Q: Are there other possibilities, apart
from public charging and home charging?
Horstmeier: Workplace charging: Your car’s parked there, anyway,
during the day. This is also a lot more convenient than filling up the
tank: After all, what employer has its own filling station for staff?
The BMW Group has one of the largest company charging networks in
Germany. We have come a long way in 2021: We now have more than 5,000
charging points in service and over 1,000 charging points that are
eRoaming-capable: This means they can also be used by other
electric-vehicle drivers – so the general public also benefits from
our company charging network.
Q: And what does it look like on the
Horstmeier: We have already begun with the rollout. In Europe
alone, over 1,100 more charging points will be added by the end of
2022. Our BMW branches and partners at our retail outlets are also
expanding their on-site charging facilities in stages.
Q: Let’s come back to the time aspect
of charging. Short and medium distances don’t seem to be a problem,
but what about longer trips, where, in comparison, charging is
clearly a disadvantage?
Peter: Our IONITY high-power charging network – which
we founded in 2017, along with other manufacturers – ensures
convenient electromobility over longer distances. We recently stepped
up our commitment to IONITY and have invested 700 million euros,
together with the existing shareholders and new investor BlackRock.
This will speed up expansion of the high-power charging network
significantly. By 2025, the IONITY network will have around 7,000
Nota: Our BMW Charging services also make it easy and
convenient to use IONITY high-power charging points. With the BMW i4,
you can charge a range of more than 160 kilometres in ten minutes. You
just plug in your car and go for a cup of coffee while it charges. We
see tremendous potential for the future in this area.
Q: If I’m a customer wanting to charge
my car, how do I go about finding a suitable charging point?
Nota: Charging is fully integrated into the digital
ecosystem. I can locate and select available charging points in the
car’s navigation system. I can also use the “my BMW” and “my MINI” app
to plan my route and find suitable charging points. While driving from
A to B, I then select the “charging-optimised route”. My vehicle
calculates the available range, based on various factors, such as
weather, speed and traffic conditions, and recommends suitable
Q: And which processes run in the background?
Peter: Two companies we have been involved with for
years are key to easy, wide-scale access to public charging points:
Hubject and Digital Charging Solutions GmbH (DCS). Both of these will
play a key role in the continuing ramp-up of electromobility.
Q: In what way?
Peter: They both link up
individual charging points to create a comprehensive network for our
customers. Hubject runs an international roaming platform that
aggregates different operators’ charging points. This platform forms a
basis that allows customers to find and use different operators’
charging posts in different countries – even those of small local
providers in fragmented markets –with a single card.
Q: And what is the role of Digital
Peter: DCS operates at the interface to the customer.
It aggregates the charging points of different charging post operators
and provides B2C customers and others with access to them as a
white-label solution. This is the basis for our BMW Charging and MINI
Charging services. Other automotive manufacturers can also make this
solution available to their customers under their own brand name. DCS
was set up at the BMW Group at around the same time the BMW i3 was
released onto the market. We soon recognised that we were doing
pioneering work and decided to offer the service to other companies,
as well. Today, DCS serves as an absolute enabler: Several well-known
manufacturers are taking advantage of DCS’s award-winning offering.
The business model is also very attractive: In 2021, bp joined the BMW
Group and Daimler as the third partner, bringing in another 9,000 or
so rapid charging points across Europe that will boost convenience and
coverage and enhance customer benefits even further.
Q: How would you describe your approach
to charging in a nutshell? And how important is this topic to your
company as a whole?
Horstmeier: Charging is an interdisciplinary topic that gets a lot
of attention and has become central to the company. You can tell from
the fact that the Board of Management is actively involved as a team.
The BMW Group takes a holistic approach to electromobility – with
attractive vehicles, and products and services that make charging easy
and convenient. That is why our commitment to charging extends
throughout the entire value chain: from compelling products and
services through strategic investments, all the way to building our
own company charging infrastructure. I drive a BMW i3 and a BMW iX
myself and make use of all charging options: at home and at work, as
well as public charging. There are already so many benefits and
possibilities. Further digitalisation and automation offer enormous
potential for the future.
Q: Will you build your own exclusive
public charging network for your customers in the future? Other
manufacturers have already announced plans for this.
Peter: We are committed to open networks. That is the
most effective way to support the ramp-up and availability of
infrastructure for our customers. This also helps realise the high
capacity utilisation needed to make networks profitable. Through our
investment in IONITY, we are strongly involved in building a public
Horstmeier: The eRoaming-capable charging points
in our company charging network are open to drivers of vehicles made
by any manufacturer. In recent years, we have also set up more than
15,000 additional charging points around the world with various
partners. If you look at our overall commitment to building charging
infrastructure, we are at well over 20,000 charging points. This shows
that we are leading by example!
Q: What can we expect from the BMW
Group in the field of charging in 2022?
Nota: We have set ourselves ambitious goals for
electromobility next year: We aim to more than double sales of our
pure electric vehicles compared to this year. In 2022, we will be
focusing on two more approaches that will make charging even more
attractive. First, we will be integrating charging even more deeply
into our myBMW and myMINI app. This means our customers will be able
to find everything related to their vehicle in a single app –
including access to public charging points. Second, we will continue
to promote charging networks – which will make the charging process simpler.
Horstmeier: We will be making charging even easier and more
convenient in 2022. Even with a growing number of public charging
points, we plan to expand the already high coverage of more than 90
percent across Europe. We are also exploring how to make
sustainability even more of a focus for public charging – for example,
through voluntary carbon offsets or further integration of green
electricity options. We are also paying close attention to
bidirectional charging, which we believe has great potential –
especially when it comes to how electric vehicles can contribute to
supply reliability and the energy transition.
Peter: We want to make e-mobility
even easier to use on a day-to-day basis next year – because we need
that for acceptance of electric cars to continue to grow. High-quality
electric vehicles speak for themselves – with their impressive
performance, driving dynamics and range. Adequate charging
infrastructure is the bottleneck. Once this is available, the
transition to e-mobility will become even more dynamic. I am very
confident this shift will take place in the near future. We see how
quickly e-mobility can gain momentum in markets like China and some of
our European neighbours, for instance. The important thing is: The
complete package for our customers has to be right. We are committed
* public charging points, connected and available through charging
Original Press Release