BMW to Introduce Branded Fast-Charging Stations

 BMW

One of the advantages of owning a Tesla is the car maker's network of superchargers, which charge the Model S to 50 percent capacity in 20 minutes—for free.

Other plug-in cars rely on a patchwork of commercial charging stations, some with sketchy reputations, that charge anywhere from $30 per month for unlimited charges or up to $5 per hour.

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Now, BMW is taking a page from Tesla's playbook and rolling out its own i DC Fast Chargers, which can charge BMW's new i3 electric to 80 percent in 30 minutes. The chargers will be available at BMW dealers starting in August and authorized locations later.

Developed in conjunction with Bosch, BMW's charger could represent a significant step in making charging stations as ubiquitous and convenient as gas stations because it is half the size of conventional DC fast chargers, which are as large as refrigerators and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

BMW's charger can be mounted on a wall and sells for $6,548, which could encourage small businesses such as convenience stores to install them much as they do ATM machines.

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"This is a milestone in the development of the DC fast charging infrastructure," Robert Healey, EVInfrastructure Manager at BMW of North America, said in a statement. "BMW is offering the BMW i DC Fast Charger at an appealing price point, and more manageable size, to make the convenience of DC fast charging more accessible for BMW i3 owners."

Unlike Tesla's proprietary Superchargers, the BMW charger will use the SAE Combo 1 connector, which BMW, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Porsche have committed to adopting. (Tesla CEO Elon Musk has indicated he will consider opening the Supercharger network to other car makers.)

BMW also announced that it will offer free fast-charging for i3 drivers at eVgo Freedom Station sites in California through 2015.

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