Manufacturing News

BMW partners with State Grid EV Service to expand charging infrastructure

BMW inked a deal with State Grid's subsidiary, State Grid EV Service, on Wednesday in Beijing, as part of the German premium carmaker's efforts to promote e-mobility in the world's largest new energy vehicle market.

The deal, which mainly covers creating a unified charging network, charging innovation and ecosystem, is the first between an international carmaker and State Grid EV Service, China's largest highway charging pillar operator.

"BMW's strategic partnership with State Grid EV Service, a leading charging service provider, demonstrates a strong commitment of BMW to China," said Jochen Goller, president and CEO of BMW Group Region China.

"Our efforts are also an active response to China's new infrastructure initiative, which aims to develop and support application of new technologies," he said.

Goller said decisive government support and favorable policies have been a major part of China's strong development in e-mobility, but further development requires joint efforts of both the government and companies.

Quan Shengming, chairman of State Grid EV Service, said the partnership will complement each other's advantages and make greater contributions to China's new energy vehicle sector.

According to the deal, the cooperation will enable BMW car drivers' access to more than 270,000 charging pillars by the end of this year, more than double the current figure.

Also, the carmaker will soon offer direct current charging services along more than 50,000 km of highways in the country, creating the possibility of zero-emission long-distance travel for the first time.

Analysts say more convenient charging and a richer lineup of models are expected to further consolidate BMW Group's leading position in the premium vehicle segment. As the leader of premium e-mobility in the world's largest market, BMW has delivered more than 60,000 new energy vehicles in China, playing an important role in reducing fleet impact on the environment.

Goller said Chinese customers have the highest expectations well beyond products and technology, and charging convenience is an important factor that attracts them to new energy vehicles.

"That is why we will expand not only our offer to 6 new energy vehicle models this year, and make great efforts on eDrive technology development, dealer network, but also charging infrastructure as well as digital services," he said.

BMW has the largest premium new energy vehicle sales and service network in China, with more than 450 dealerships from tier-one to tier-five cities.

Its joint venture, BMW Brilliance Automotive, was the first in China to set up its own high-voltage battery production facility.

"The second phase of the center is starting production this year, offering batteries to the iX3," said Johann Wieland, president and CEO of the joint venture.

This vehicle will be the first model from the company to be produced in China for the world market.

As the carmaker grows its fleet of new energy vehicles, their owners are demanding safer and faster charging service, which requires cross-industry cooperation like the one between BMW and State Grid EV Service, said Wieland.

Wieland also said the partnership will not only benefit BMW owners but also helps promote the development of the whole sector.

On the other hand, BMW iX3 SUV, which is scheduled to hit the market this year, will make the X3 SUV the first BMW model to offer all powertrains on a single platform, offering customers the "Power of Choice".

"Based on true customer demand, we believe different drivetrain technologies will coexist alongside each other even in the years to come," said Goller.

He said that the carmaker will have up to 25 models, including both battery-electric cars and plugin hybrids by 2023.

This all is based on using an intelligent and scalable vehicle architecture that can be equipped with different powertrain technologies. Goller said BMW Group will continue investing more than 30 billion euros worldwide until 2025 into research and new technologies. "The current crisis will have a lasting impact on our industry," he said.

"The ongoing transformation towards a new form of mobility will be significantly accelerated, it is important for BMW to take a firm stance and pursue a clear course towards the future," said Goller.

BMW and State Grid EV Service will conduct technical research on high power charging, which will significantly reduce charging time. Car-charger compatibility in direct current charging will be tested as well, said the two companies.

The two will try to establish unified technical specifications for high power charging and contribute to creating global standards, aiming to create a better charging experience for the entire market.

As part of the partnership, BMW also plans to set up three-in-one charging stations at its dealerships, with the first to be completed within the year.

The carmaker said the stations will utilize solar energy to charge vehicles, as well as providing power for the showrooms and aftersales workshops.

"The cooperation on solar energy with State Grid EV Service is yet another milestone for BMW Group in promoting the use of alternative power for new energy vehicles and build up a new model of green energy consumption," said Goller. BMW will also explore battery re-usage and recycling technology, testing feasibility and various options, and promote sustainability throughout the new energy vehicles' lifecycle.

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