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BMW i3

BMW, GM Test Fast Charge Stations

BMW i3BMW and General Motors engineers say they have passed a milestone in adopting the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) standard for DC fast charge stations, charging pre-production versions of the BMW i3 and the Chevrolet Spark EV using stations developed by various suppliers.

GM and BMW say this industry-coordinated early confirmation of DC fast charge hardware and software will accelerate efforts to roll out SAE combo DC fast charge infrastructure in the coming months. Charging station manufacturers that participated in the testing included ABB, Aker Wade, Eaton and IES.

The automakers say the combined — or combo — DC and AC connector will enable ease of use with just one charging port for each electric vehicle and faster flow of electricity, which will be convenient for consumers without access to overnight charging at home. The fast charge stations can charge EVs up to 80 percent in under 20 minutes, according to BMW and GM.

The first vehicles to offer the new SAE combo DC fast charge connector will be the BMW i3 and the Chevrolet Spark EV.

BMW says it wants to offer its customers access to the fast charging stations when the BMWi models arrive on the market this November. GM says the cooperation between suppliers and original equipment manufacturers speaks to the maturity of the fast charging technology and will help speed up adoption of electric vehicles by consumers.

The two automakers — and Ford, Chrysler, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche — last year adopted the SAE fast-charging approach for use on electric vehicles in Europe and the US, bypassing the CHAdeMO charging standard already used by Japanese cars including the Nissan Leaf and sparking a battle over fast-charge standards.

At a California state senate public committee meeting in May 2012, GM asked that the state limit adoption of DC fast charging to only those models that conformed to the SAE standard while Toyota insisted that the state should only consider fast charging stations that conformed to the CHAdeMo standard used by Japanese automakers.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy this week released an online price comparison tool — eGallon — that allows consumers to compare the cost of fueling their cars with electricity versus gasoline. In Colorado, the eGallon price is about $1.12, meaning that a typical EV could travel as far on $1.12 worth of electricity as a similar vehicle could travel on a gallon of gasoline.

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