By on July 29, 2014

BMW_i_DC_Fast_Charger_wall_mount[1]

Owners of BMWs i Series vehicles may soon have more places to charge their vehicles, all thanks to the automaker’s new, less-expensive, suitcase-sized charger.

Automotive News reports the 100-pound, 24-kilowatt chargers, made by Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, will be available to companies who partner with BMW for the low price of $6,500, and can recharge other EVs from other automakers like General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford.

According to BMW of North America EV infrastructure manager Robert Healey, BMW hopes that by making its new charger available at a discount, the companies who sign on would help the automaker establish a nationwide network similar to Tesla’s exclusive Supercharger network:

Our focus is on getting as many DC fast chargers out there as possible, but the cost has been a hindrance. We want to remove every perceived barrier for our potential customers. We want to ensure that customers see these chargers.

The first of the new chargers will go online at BMW dealerships in August, with more to come as third-party companies begin to partner with BMW.

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37 Comments on “BMW Unveils $6,500 Suitcase-Size EV Charger...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Less expensive than what, their old charger? To me, $6500 is a pretty steep price for something that should come with the car. The Tesla offers this capability built-in for less than half the price INCLUDING the wall unit.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      This is a high speed level 3 charging station, the equivalent of a Tesla supercharger, though not as fast. I suspect that BMW sends each i3 out the door with a level 1 charging station, which uses a 120 volt 15 amp circuit. Most EV owners will then purchase a level 2 charging station, that requires a 240 volt 30 or 50 amp circuit, and provides 4.8 – 7.2 kW to the car. These sell for around $500 – $600.

      The level 1 charging station adds about 4 miles of range for every hour plugged in, and the level 2 units add between 16 and 24 miles of range per hour. The charging station mentioned in this post will probably add around 60 miles in a half hour.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        It’s still twice as expensive as the Tesla-available dual-charger with 80-Amp capacity (less than 3 hour charge for a 65kWh model and less than 4 hours for the 85kWh model). The ‘level 2′ model charger for the Tesla does 39 miles per hour so the dual charger does nearly 80 miles each hour at only $3700 price.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          This unit is a DC charger. It would require electric service voltages and amperages that you would find at a commercial facility,and will bring the car to a high state of charge in 30 minutes. It’s the equivalent of a Tesla supercharger for the i3, and is not for home use.

          The Tesla dual charger is just two higher powered level 2 units. The downside of having that installed in your home is that it needs 100 amp 240 volt service, and you may need a new run from the street, depending on your home’s current electric service.

          I don’t see the need to add 200 miles of range in three hours to a car from someone’s home. You’d only need that if you drove around all morning, came home for a few hours, then drove around all afternoon. If that were my mission profile, I wouldn’t bother with an EV.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Really, that’s the point; for 1/5th the cost a business could purchase a Tesla wall unit that can handle the “dual charger” in the car itself. Single wall unit, two chargers in the car. 80-amp capacity monitored and regulated by the vehicle itself to control rate of charge and circuit temperatures.

            It’s not two stand-alone charging posts on the wall, it’s a single 80-Amp post with the car handling the control. The Supercharger simply bypasses the built-in vehicle charging circuits–if the vehicle is so equipped.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            The Tesla unit you mention is of no use to BMW. You did notice that this is something that BMW commissioned, right?

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            Awright, I think I see where the confusion lies. In current usage, there are two ways to charge a plug in vehicle, using AC power, and using DC power. All current plug in vehicles can accept AC power. There ‘s a device that goes between the power outlet and the wall, that the trade calls an EVSE and most of us call a charging station. All it does is to take wall current and provide it to the car. The car then uses its onboard inverter to provide it to the car’s built in charging system. Each car has a maximum amount of AC power that it can accept. For the Nisan LEAF, it’s either 3.3 or 6.6 kW, for the BMW i3 it’s 6.6 kW, for the Tesla it’s higher.

            Charging stations can provide different amounts of current as well. The one I have in my garage maxes out at 4.8 kW. If I were to plug an EV that has an onboard charger that only accepts 3.3 kW, then that is all the car would accept. The additional capacity of the charging station would go unused. I could buy a 7.2 kw charging station but the car would not charge any faster, the onboard charger is the limiting factor. A Tesla’s onboarc charger can accept much more than 6.6 kW, so Tesla sells equipment that provides higher current levels.

            The device mentioned in this article is a DC charger, it inverts the incoming AC current to DC and provides it to the car’s batteries. The i3 has circuitry to accept this DC current and is able to charge the batteries much more quickly than can the car’s onboard inverter and charger. Tesla’s equivalent is the superchargher, and Nissan’s is called CHAdeMO.

            The

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aye. And just like Tesla they’re attempting to share their own technology to help establish a “global” standard. Apparently Nissan is considering the same thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      This is really for businesses to buy to service customer cars. Likely it will be a charge to use, but the real benefit will be capturing the customers who will spend bucks at your business waiting. Eventually, chargers will be expected at all sorts of businesses.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Not logical as you conceive it, since you’d still have to carry around cabling to meet the high amperage load if this is intended to be a portable device. Meanwhile, Tesla’s high-amperage charger itself is only $1200. You could mount five of those for the price of one BMW charger.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          This unit would be permanently mounted at a fixed location. The electrical service that it will require can’t be provided with a plug.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          I don’t think I understand your issue, Vulpine. Either you are looking for some missing fact you think must exist, or you were just picking a fight. Sorry if I have you wrong, but you have gone from not seeming to understand this to acting like everyone else here is an idiot in less than day.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Which fact do you think is missing? The fact that Tesla already has an 80-Amp charging post available that can charge a single or dual-charger-equipped Tesla for $1200? Or is it the fact that Tesla’s Supercharger flat-out bypasses the regular charging circuits completely for what is currently the fastest possible charging time of about 40 minutes for 200 miles of charge?

            My point is that while BMW is offering this ‘suitcase-sized’ charger, it’s still more expensive than what Tesla has already produced AND has made available to anyone who wants to build to that “standard”. In essence, a company could install 5 Tesla quick chargers for every 1 BMW suitcase charger with a relatively insignificant difference in actual charging rates for the vehicles connected. At which point, which one is the more economically viable?

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            @Vulpine, the Tesla 80 amp charging post is an AC unit. It will charge a Tesla reasonably quickly, but it won’t charge the BMW quickly, it would be no different than a 30 amp charging station. The whole point of the BMW suitcase charger is to provide DC power to rapidly charge the BMW, just like the supercharger provides DC current to rapidly charge the Tesla.

            The Tesla 80 amp post will add 58 miles of range per hour to a dual charger equipped model S, while the supercharger will add 170 miles per half hour. Similarly, a 30 amp charging station will add about 24 miles per hour to an i3’s range, and this suitcase charger will add about 64 miles in a half hour.

            I don’t know if it’s not technically feasible to charge the BMW’s much smaller battery pack with AC power that quickly, or if BMW just decided it wasn’t worth throwing all that charging capacity at a car that is to sell in that price range. A 60 kW Model S equipped with the capability to supercharge and with dual chargers is almost twice the price of the i3.

            We know the BMW suitcase charger sells for about $6500. The equivalent to that in the Tesla world is a supercharger, and we have no idea how much that sells for. Tesla charging equipment provides more miles per charge hour than does BMW’s or Nissans because Teslas have much greater range, at a much higher price. I do believe there are practical limits to how fast a battery pack can be charged, and that the amount added is proportional to the pack size.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            So you you were just picking a fight?

            Perhaps next time you could start with your actual agenda?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            No argument on the technology, FF, but you’re ignoring the price differential. I believe you’re also overlooking the fact that Tesla will have a direct price competitor out in about 3 years with the 200+mile range Model III that is also reported to be Supercharger capable.

            My whole point with my commentary is that BMW is grossly overpricing this device when you take into account that Tesla has a roughly similar device at 1/5th the cost. I applaud that BMW and others are trying to compete, but unless the i3 sells a lot more units than the Model S, Model X and Model III combined, it’s simply not a cost-effective device. With the current idling of the Tesla plant for machining and capacity upgrades, Tesla won’t be putting out a mere 20,000 vehicle a year any more–they’ll be able to meet the high demand and *may* be able to start stocking showrooms within the next few years.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I take it then that this is built to the SAE standard, rather than the CHADEMO standard that Nissan prefers, and whatever the hell that Tesla uses.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      And what IS the “SAE Standard” for chargers right now? Or is there one? At the moment, I don’t think there IS one, since Tesla at least is trying to SET that standard.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        It’s part of J1772: http://articles.sae.org/11484/

        There are three fast charging standards from what I can tell. The Japanese industry favors CHADEMO, Ford, BMW, and most North American and European makers favor SAE, and Tesla is out on their own.

        Tesla wants a royalty for their technology, so I don’t see that one winning out.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Ok, I’ll accept all but that last statement. What makes you think Tesla wants a royalty for their technology, when they’ve already open-sourced all the patents? They clearly stated they were all “free to use, as long as it’s in good faith”. That tells me there’s no royalties involved–unless someone tries to re-patent some slight change to the original designs.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            I have seen published reports to that effect. They may have since changed their policy.

            At this point, fast chargers are only important to Tesla anyway. Every other EV has such a short highway range that I can’t see the need for a quick charge. No one’s going to stop every hour to charge.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Obviously that’s changing, FF, since BMW is now making a fast-charger available. It looks like the future standard is going to be closer to a 100-mile range between charges for non-Tesla vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      fa·nat·ic

      1. a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause.

      Throwing information at one rarely has an effect.

  • avatar
    koshchei

    Inasmuch as “M-Sport” is German for Brougham, what is “at a discount” German for?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Silly, and unhelpful to the EV cause.

    These mfrs need to work out some common standards. Personally, I’d like to see them all adopt the Supercharger standard, and then work out the money flow. Sometimes it’s OK to concede defeat in a trivial matter.

    But a $6500 charger only advances the myth that “EVs are for rich people”. No individual or institution should have to pay this for a charger.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      For a high speed DC charger, that’s quite a low price. Considering that most cars wouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes at it, I think it’s very cost effective. It’s certainly not something someone would install at home, more likely near a highway at a gasoline station.

      If you want to complain about someone going off standard, you can look at Tesla. SAE has one standard that is favored in North America and some European makers, CHAdeMO is a Japanese industry standard that is also used by some European makers, but the supercharger is Tesla’s alone.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        The charger in the Tesla Model S only costs $1600 with about the same capacity as this “suitcase charger” at $6500. Sure, it’s not an external unit, but essentially it’s the same device with about the same charging rate.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          They are not the same. This BMW unit is the equivalent of the equipment you’d find at one of Tesla’s supercharger locations.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            … at one-quarter the power–or equivalent to the 80-amp wall unit.

            I understand what you’re trying to say; my point still is that it’s too expensive for what it does. That’s been my whole point all along. At half the price it would sell 4x the number and maybe even establish itself as THE standard. As it is, the Tesla device stands far more chance of becoming THE standard for rapid charging; which is why Tesla opened its patents to universal production.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            I don’t think you do. The BMW suitcase charger is an SAE spec rapid DC charger. The equivalent in the Tesla world is the on the groumd hardware for a supercharger station. Tesla does have a portable supercharger unit, it’s $35,000, and is much more powerful than the BMW unit. Here’s a link: http://insideevs.com/deatils-on-teslas-first-35000-mobile-supercharging-station/

            I’m not sure what item you are referring to that is $1600, but if it’s internal to the car most likely it is the second internal charger needed to allow the model S to accept 80 amps of 240 volt AC power. From what I can tell, that unit is $3600 installed: http://shop.teslamotors.com/collections/model-s-charging-adapters/products/2nd-onboard-charger

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Dig a little deeper in the ‘shop Tesla’ link and you will discover they are separately priced at $1200 for the wall unit and $1400 for the in-car second charger. I may have those prices reversed since I’d gone to that point myself to discover the pricing in the first place two days ago.

  • avatar
    martinwinlow

    @FormerFF… You have it nearly right. An inverter converts DC to AC – most commonly in the form of ‘motor inverters’ where the inverter takes DC from a battery and converts it to AC to run an AC motor. It’s like a ginormous light dimmer and basically controls the power by chopping it on and off very quickly – up to 30 thousand times a second or more. The other common use of inverters, certainly in a domestic context, is to turn DC from a solar array into AC for use in the home or to send it to the grid.

    The device in a car that does the reverse, i.e. converts AC to DC for charging a battery, is just a charger. As you say an EVSE (electric vehicle service equipment) is really just a high powered switch (usually a relay, actually) which is effectively controlled by the vehicle it is plugged into i.e. the vehicle tells the EVSE how much current it wants and when. AKA a ‘charging station’.

    A DC charger, such as BMWs ‘suitcase’ one (doesn’t it have a name?) is, again, as you say, an off-board charger and quite a powerful one but only half as powerful as ChaDeMo or the new CCS (combined charging standards) DC chargers and much less so than Tesla’s SC.

    Interestingly, Renault uses a ‘chameleon’ charger in their Zoe which is an onboard charger that can take the max 47kW 3 phase AC output that the Type 2 EVSE, which is becoming very common in Europe nowadays, can provide. It will also charge at much lower rates down to about 3kW, single phase, I gather.

    Meanwhile, a small company in CA called Electric Motor Werks (correct spelling – EMW) is selling a 240VAC single phase 25kW DC charger for home use for US$2600. And, as it only weighs 25 lbs, could be used portably as well. Of course, you would have to be able to find somewhere with a single phase supply with that capability which would be unusual, currently at least. MW


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