BMW, VW and Charge Point Announce CCS Fast-Charging Corridors on East, West Coast of U.S.

Today at the Washington Auto Show in Washington D.C., German automakers BMW and Volkswagen announced a major new partnership with charging provider ChargePoint that not only has the potential to change the face of rapid charging provision in the U.S., but accelerate both companies to the top of the electric car sales charts.

BMW and Volkswagen, working with ChargePoint, have plans to change the charging landscape of the U.S. forever.

BMW and Volkswagen, working with ChargePoint, have plans to change the charging landscape of the U.S. forever.

Working together, the two automakers and nationwide charging provider say they will build electric vehicle express charging corridors on both east and west coasts of the U.S., joining major cities and metropolitan areas with a string of CCS-compatible DC quick charging stations.

In total, the collaboration is expected to see the numbers of CCS-compatible DC quick chargers on both coasts increase by nearly 100 stations, laying a path which will eventually not only join coastal regions together but the whole of the U.S.

Volkswagen and BMW have created this handy infographics detailing the proposed routes.

Volkswagen and BMW have created this handy infographics detailing the proposed routes.

On the U.S. west coast, the charging corridor will span the entire length of the I-5 from San Diego and Los Angeles, California in the south to Portland, Oregon in the north. Likewise, the east-coast corridor will link cities and towns along the I-95 from Boston in the north to Washington D.C. in the south.

Of course, Volkswagen, BMW and ChargePoint aren’t the first to tackle quick charging provision for long-distance, inter-city travel by electric car. Tesla Motors already has its own nationwide Supercharger network, and Nissan has invested heavily in its own network of CHAdeMO DC quick charge stations for use along major travel corridors in pro-electric car areas like the Pacific Northwest.

Both the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf use CCS quick charging technology

Both the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf use CCS quick charging technology

But the project being tackled by Volkswagen and BMW is just as big, if not bigger than Nissan’s own efforts thus far, and will cater to not just BMW and Volkswagen cars, but also to owners of the Chevrolet Spark EV, which is also makes use of the CCS quick charging standard.

“A robust network of conveniently located DC Fast charging stations will go a long way toward increasing electric vehicle adoption and making electric vehicle ownership even more enjoyable” said Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure at BMW of North America. “The express charging corridors are another important step in the development of the U.S. e-mobility infrastructure that makes longer distance travel a real option for consumers, particularly among the most heavily-trafficked portions of both coast — making the BMW i3 and other electric vehicles even more appealing.”

“Volkswagen believes in a holistic approach to e-mobility in order to create a seamless experience for the consumer,” said Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy for Volkswagen of America. “The investment in the express charging corridor will provide e-Golf and other electric vehicle owners with the added support to travel their day-to-day and popular long distance routes.”

Almost 100 quick charge sites will be added along east and west coasts this year.

Almost 100 quick charge sites will be added along east and west coasts this year.

Working with ChargePoint, the two companies intend to identify suitable charging sites spaced no more than 50 miles apart, making it possible for today’s limited-range CCS-compatible cars to easily travel between charging stations with range to spare. At each site, up to two 50 kilowatt DC CCS quick charging stations will be installed, or two 24 kilowatt DC combo quick charging stations will be installed.

Worthy of note however is the intention to install a backup Level 2 charging station at every quick charging site too. While the CCS charging stations will only be pin-compatible with the BMW i3, Volkswagen e-Golf and Chevrolet Spark EV at launch, any electric car that can use a Level 2 charging station — pretty much every plug-in car on sale in the U.S. today — will be able to benefit from the new network.

As with the rest of the ChargePoint network, access to the new charging stations will be via an active ChargePoint card or the ChargePoint smartphone app, while BMW ChargeNow customers will also be able to use their own dedicated card and smartphone app to activate a charging session.

Chargepoint, Volkswagen and BMW say the first stage of the project will be complete by the end of 2015, with nearly 100 DC quick charging stations installed along the east and west coasts in the next twelve months. As with Tesla’s own Supercharger network and Nissan’s network of DC quick charging stations, restaurants, shopping centres, rest stops and popular destinations along each coast will be prime candidates for a rapid charging station installation, and work has already commenced on the first of the new charging stations in San Diego.

Access will be granted using either the Chargepoint card or smartphone app, or BMW's own ChargeNow system.

Access will be granted using either the Chargepoint card or smartphone app, or BMW’s own ChargeNow system.

Until today’s announcement, the BMW i3, Volkswagen e-Golf and Chevrolet Spark EV were something of limited-range cars for many owners. Despite possessing rapid charging technology in the form of a CCS quick charge socket, the majority of owners lived well out of reach of a quick charging station. In fact, if we’re honest, you could probably count the number of CCS quick charging stations in most cities on one hand — even in electric-car friendly cities like Los Angeles, New York or Seattle.

Today’s announcement will change that for anyone living on the east or west coast of the U.S., making mid- and long-range trips by electric car far more practical than they once were.

What’s more, today’s announcement has the power to dramatically shake up the status quo in the electric car marketplace, since it finally gives long-range capabilities to three mainstream electric cars which we’re guessing many buyers ignored in preference to the Nissan LEAF, simply because the LEAF had a better, more mature rapid charging network.

If Volkswagen, BMW and Chargepoint manage to keep their project on track, the electric vehicle marketplace in twelve months’ time could be very different to today’s.

Watch this space.

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  • Tommolog

    Nikki: One thing to add that wasn’t included in the press release, but I have confirmed: The 50kW stations along the major corridors will all be dual head – CCS & CHAdeMO stations. The unit is made by Efacec and here’s a link to the cut sheet: nhttp://www.chargepoint.com/files/Efecec_QC_50_DC_fast_charger_datasheet.pdfnOn the secondary locations off the major corridors the 24kW CCS-only stations will be installed. Also, at all of the major corridor locations with the 50kW units, there will also be at least one Level 2 EVSE.

    • More from BMW’s blog: u00abon the West coast the new u201cCCS Highwayu201d will span from San Diego, CA all the way to Portland OR. All of these locations will feature 50kW dual-head Fast Charge stations, including CHAdeMO charging capabilities as well as CCS. In addition, these locations will have multiple Level 2 ChargePoint EVSEu2019s, allowing the user to u201ctop offu201d once the vehicle reaches 80% state of charge from the DC fast charger.u00bbnhttp://www.bmwblog.com/2015/01/22/bmw-partners-volkswagen-chargepoint-fast-charge-rollout/n

      • Tommolog

        Yep. That was taken from my blog (with my permission) and posted on BMWBLOG. 🙂

  • Michael Thwaite

    Happy Days. It’s not so much how far you can go on a charge but how easily and readily you can recharge imo. I’m glad to see that they’re following Tesla and installing more than one unit at locations. Let’s hope that, as usage demonstrates, they’ll install 4-6-8+ al la Tesla model.nnnI’m not about to set off on a trip to DC in the i3 – it wasn’t designed for that but, the idea that I can freely drive around the metro area and recharge quickly will be priceless. Plus, if I did need to get further once in a while, it’s nice to know that I don’t have to borrow a gas car to do it… as long as I don’t mind stopping quite frequently but, hey, that’s the trade-off I made in exchange for the benefits of driving an EV every other day of my life.

    • See your concerns u2026 driving to Washington DC as depected on the info-map places it near Miami, FL. 😉

      • Tommolog

        Hmm. I didn’t know Boston was in Maine.

        • Michael Thwaite

          But you have to admire the huge bridge they’re planning to allow you to skip the Carolina’s – not that I mind them but it’s slow traffic.

          • Tommolog

            No bridge, that part of the route is all downhill. No need to charge

  • It’s amazing how much press this joint BMW, ChargePoint, VW press release is getting. Here is some context:nnFor US in May 2013 there were 368 DCFC vs ~800 now, and 55,000* PEVs vs. 295,000* now (20 months later, Jan 2015). So while number PEVs increased 5.3x; DCFC port counts increased just 2.2x. nnAdding a 100 DCFC ports is not really that significant u2026 would bring the increase to just 2.4x of 2013. More likely the end of 2015 the number of PEVs will exceed 420,000* an increase of 7.5x over May 2013. ie: The number of PEVs is increasing 3 times faster than the number of DCFC.nnRef: http://www.recargo.com/news/infographics/the_rise_of_electric_car_charging/ nn* I probabbly should have just considered BEVs vs the combined totals of PEVs (BEVs + PHEVs), but historic BEV data is a bit harder to decipher.

    • Tommolog

      I think it’s partly because CCS has been basically nonexistant so far except for a few in CA that were installed by NRG and this is the first real sign that CCS stations will indeed be installed. Also, these ~100 are just the first step and will be largely installed by the end of 2015. It doesn’t stop there, this is just the beginning. For us here on the East coast there hasn’t been a single CCS station yet, but within about a year there will be dozens of them within driving range. This is good stuff!

      • Michael Thwaite

        I agree, it has to start somewhere. I could complain about a lack of DCFC holding back EV adoption on the East coast but, we got our first CHAdeMO a few months back and now we’re launching into a proper roll out of CCS. Ask any Tesla S guy and they’ve little idea what range anxiety is. Within the time I’ll have my i3 I hope to see DCFC units become the norm at VW and BMW dealers and for i3 / Golf owners to feel the same.nnnAnd, what will this do for Nissan Leaf owners? I expect to see Nissan re-doubling their efforts to compete… Next Mitsubishi will be costing up to Nissan and, all the while, Tesla will be deploying more Superchargers to make sure they don’t loose the crown. This is the beginning of the end.

        • Tommolog

          I like the beginning of the end! My prediction: Nissan joins the fun and agrees to install dual head stations at all their locations. Then, BMW, VW and Nissan together strike up a deal with Tesla to install a couple CCS/CHAdeMO stations at all supercharger locations, paying Tesla for the real estate. I’d say $50,000 to $75,000 per location is about fair enough. The sky’s the limit!

          • Not sure at all locations, but at supercharger stations within 100 mies of metro regions does make sense. The 120-150 mile SC spacing is not in-sync with 50 mile spaced infrastructure. nnAs 120-200 mile CCS and CHAdeMO equipped BEVs come to market, I can see the joint expansion beyond a 100 mile radius of metro centers.

      • Agree, this great news. Currently there are ~6-8000 CCS EVs on the road in US as first CCS stations being installed. By the time ~15,000 CCS equipped EVs on the road there should be a 100 CCS stations.nnIn comparison, there was about twice as many CHAdeMO equipped EVs before CHAdeMO stations started appearing in numbers. It wasn’t until mid-late 2012 that numbers of CHAdeMO stations broke pass 100. Half of these were located at dealer locations not near highway like these planned EV-express corridors. The planned CCS rollout goes a step where CHAdeMO has yet to go u2026 bridging gaps between LA, BayArea, and Oregon; plus bridging key metro regions on east-coast.nnHopefully ChargePoint works with Nissan to also include CHAdeMO ports at all locations. The is a smart deployment pattern that Netherlands and Germany are using with new DCFC stations. It has also a deployment strategy used by eVgo in California (and perhaps other markets like Georga, but lack data). Hopefully besides being dual-port units that stations will have pairs of DCFC to provide redundancy and reliability. An extended range corridor BEV is only as good as the weakest link!nnAny DCFC station with both CCS and CHAdeMO in the US now has over 100,000 potential BEV users u2026 likely over 175,000 before 2016. (Nissan, Tesla, BMW, VW, and GM)

  • Stephen Noctor

    Great news!

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