Issue: Apr 2017


e-Mobility  the BMW way  



by Ed Richardson

BMW is fast filling all the niches in its fleet with electric or hybrid options.

Their new models are stylish, green – and fast. BMW’s first plug-in sports hybrid, the X5 xDrive40e, accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds using a combination of electric and petrol engines. The X5 xDrive40e combines the company’s award-winning 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine with an electric motor.

Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the electric motor is integrated into the vehicle’s 8-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle can travel approximately 14 miles on pure electric power, ideally suited to short commutes and quick trips around town. Working in concert, the gasoline engine and electric motor puts out 308 horsepower and produces 332 lb-ft.

The BMW X5 xDrive40e is being produced at the BMW Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. This is where all other model variants of the sports activity vehicle are also built along with the BMW X6, BMW X3 and BMW X4 models. It has been over 15 years since the first-generation BMW X5 went into production. Since then, this US plant has evolved into the global center of excellence for BMW X models, according to the company.

BMW had its full North American line-up on show at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. Its' stand included the BMW 740e xDrive, BMW 330e, and BMW X5 xDrive40e. Additional featured vehicles include the BMW i8, BMW M760i xDrive, and BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive. According to the BMW blog the plan is for all BMW families to have at least one plug-in hybrid. The next steps on the road to full hybridization of the BMW fleet will include the upcoming G30 5 Series and the G01 X3.

“Our cadence will be about one (plug-in variant) per quarter,” Richard Steinberg, spokesman for BMW’s electrification program in North America is quoted as saying. “Proud i3 owners can go full electric in all vehicle classes.”

Jose Guerrero, Product Manager for the BMW i and BMW M ranges told Digital Trends in an interview at the New York Auto Show that BMW was concentrating on fit-for-purpose battery technology. “In reality, the driving and charging patterns are such that a vehicle with 80 to 100 miles is just as useful as one with 300. There’s a higher uptake rate for the range extender version because people want that piece of mind. I call it training wheels.

“Throughout the industry right now, brands are chasing this 200 mile range goal, but I’m curious to see if people are willing to pay for that battery technology or if a cheaper range-extender model is more aligned with the state of the market. And that’s not to discount the emissions benefits of a pure EV verses a range extender. It is purely a question of development costs.

If people are still commuting on average 30 miles a day, will it be worth the extra cost and weight to consumers? Logic and customer behavior don’t always match up,” he is quoted as saying.

The company is working with others in the auto sector to boost e-mobility. In January it was announced that BMW and Nissan had joined forces with EVgo, the US’s largest public DC Fast charging network to add 174 sites in 33 states. “BMW’s continuing collaborations with Nissan and EVgo, further demonstrate the company’s commitment to building a robust public charging infrastructure across the country. We recognized early on that meaningful partnerships like this would be essential in order to support the expansion of convenient and accessible electric vehicle charging options,” Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure for BMW of North America is quoted on the BMW blog as saying.

“The expansion of the plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure will give more U.S. drivers the confidence to choose an electric vehicle, such as the BMW i3, as longer distance EV travel becomes increasingly commonplace,” he said. ChargeNow by EVgo provides no cost and low cost public charging access programs designed for BMW i and BMW iPerformance owners across the entire EVgo network.

“The pace at which we have been making charging infrastructure partnership announcements recently shows that BMW continues to aggressively pursue the company’s commitment to our e- mobility customers, with our steadfast support for growing the public charging infrastructure across the U.S.,” commented Cliff Fietzek, Manager Connected eMobility at BMW of North America in an earlier post.

BMW also recently completed the Express Charging Corridors initiative in which EV drivers can travel the most heavily-trafficked corridors on the East and West Coasts with the installation of 95 new DC Fast charging stations, spaced approximately 50 miles apart. This collaboration with Volkswagen of America and ChargePoint was designed to address the increasing demand for convenient, publicly-available EV fast chargers.

BMW is including vehicle sharing in its e-mobility rollout. In November 2016 it expanded its premium car sharing service ReachNow to include Brooklyn, New York. By March 2017 it was available in Seattle, Portland and Brooklyn. “We look forward to capitalising on this exciting transformation and the expansion of ReachNow is a great example of how we are helping shape a sustainable urban future. More than ever we are focussing on our customer’s needs by offering individual, premium on-demand mobility, exactly tailored to their demands,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for MINI, BMW Motorrad, Rolls-Royce and Aftersales. “The launch of ReachNow’s pilot programmes for four new mobility services demonstrates how we are putting our corporate Strategy Number ONE > NEXT into action in our daily business,” he added.

ReachNow’s Ride on-demand service began as a pilot in Seattle on December 8, 2016. The initial fleet of vehicles in Brooklyn included the BMW 3 Series and the MINI Clubman. There are nearly 800 vehicles in Seattle and Portland, including the electric BMW i3, BMW 3 series, MINI Cooper and MINI Clubman, with plans for fleet expansion. Membership gives drivers access to any available vehicle in any fleet



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