What has BMW learned from years of electric vehicle test programs and working with Mini E drivers and the ActiveE Electronauts? According to BMW board member Herbert Diess, it's that public charging is not an important piece of the puzzle of making EVs a success. The way those early EV drivers used their vehicles told BMW that, "public infrastructure is not really very important because most people are charging their cars at home," Diess recently told Wards Auto. It's a message we've heard before.
Diess' personal experience fits with this conclusion, he said. After driving his company's new i3 city EV for over a year, "not once have I touched public charging." Of course, the i3 does let the driver search for public charging stations and BMW has a partnership with ChargePoint, and Diess is not hinting that BMW is totally against the idea of public charging.
Still, Diess' comments are not likely to find a warm welcome with everyone in the EV scene. An August 2012 UCLA study titled "Financial Viability Of Non-Residential Electric Vehicle Charging Stations" (PDF) clearly states:
Even BMW's own electric drivers have been sending mixed messages. In 2010, a study of Mini E drivers found that 87.5 percent said a public charging infrastructure is necessary, though 75 percent later said they could manage without such a network.
Adoption by consumers will largely be a function of the electric vehicle charging options available. Studies show that most EV charging currently takes place in the home (Carr 2010). Even so, in order for EVs to gain widespread consumer adoption, it is critical for an infrastructure of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSEs) to exist outside the home.