There’s a battle brewing, and EV drivers are clearly going to be the winners, as BMW becomes the third automaker to regale its customers with free and convenient public fast charging. The ChargeNow DC Fast program, a cooperative effort with NRG eVgo, offers BMW i3 drivers in California unlimited no-cost 30-minute DC fast charging through 2015.
While there are only a few participating stations at the moment with SAE DC combo chargers, NRG will be installing approximately 50 throughout California by the end of the year, and BMW hopes to have 100 or so by the end of 2015.
The program is administered by Chargepoint, and a single card will give users access to both Chargepoint and NRG eVgo stations.
“Our customers will only have to sign up at chargenow.com/us to open up a ChargeNow account,” BMW of North America’s EV Infrastructure Manager Robert Healey told Charged. “That card, even though it’s a ChargePoint-administered card, will be able to work on the SAE DC combo stations through the eVgo network. That’s a first in the industry, what I call the first step towards interoperability, where you have one card and one account. I like to look at it as the ATM-type model for public charging.”
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Sound like Nissan’s EZ-Charge card? Better, says BMW. The main difference is that EZ-Charge card users are billed by the different networks separately and ChargeNow users only need one account.
“ChargeNow brings us closer to the reality of one card, one account public charging network interoperability,” said Healey.
Might BMW bring in more networks at some point? “This is the first step,” said Healey. “We want to vet out the technology and the customer experience to see what direction this will lead in the future.”