BMW's 2022 vision for electric vehicles

By Helen Adams
BMW’s one-millionth electrified vehicle has just hit the road. Pieter Nota discusses what this means for BMW, the manufacturing industry & drivers

For over ten years, the BMW Group has been dedicated to advancing electric vehicle charging and supporting the necessary infrastructure to see it become mainstream. 

The company is focused on:

  • Making EV charging more convenient than filling up a tank
  • Enabling it everywhere
  • Supporting cost transparency for EV charging

BMW’s Pieter Nota, who is responsible for Customer, Brands, Sales, shares his thoughts on the role of Digital Charging Solutions and his aspirations for BMW in 2022

 

The BMW Group recently handed over its one-millionth electrified vehicle to its new owner. One aspect that is inextricably linked with the ramp-up of electromobility is charging infrastructure. What is your opinion of this?

“Right now, charging infrastructure is failing to keep pace with sales of electrified vehicles. That is why we urgently need rapid infrastructure expansion – especially in urban, densely populated areas and over longer distances. 

“This is also up to policymakers: Economical operation must be ensured – and, if possible, promoted – especially while infrastructure is still in the expansion phase. Who’s going to build a second charging post if the first one can’t cover its costs? But, in the long run, the market has to be able to regulate itself in the interests of the customer. What we need for this are clear objectives and incentive systems. The same applies to fleet operators, to support their transition to electromobility.”

 

One aspect of charging that is often criticised is that it takes longer than filling up the tank. What do you say to that?

“Charging is already a lot more convenient – when our customers can charge at home. I can confirm this from my own experience. I’ve driven a BMW i3 that I hook up to my wallbox at home for several years now. Every morning, I get into a fully charged vehicle. That’s why we offer our customers a variety of home-charging solutions, as well as installation service and a green electricity tariff. With us, you get everything from a single source.”

 

Short and medium distances don’t seem to be a problem, but what about longer trips, where, in comparison, charging is clearly a disadvantage?

“Our IONITY high-power charging network – which we founded in 2017, along with other manufacturers – ensures convenient electromobility over longer distances. We recently stepped up our commitment to IONITY and have invested €700mn, together with the existing shareholders and new investor BlackRock. This will speed up expansion of the high-power charging network significantly. 

“By 2025, the IONITY network will have around 7,000 charging points.”

 

What is the role of Digital Charging Solutions?

“DCS operates at the interface to the customer. It aggregates the charging points of different charging post operators and provides B2C customers and others with access to them as a white-label solution. This is the basis for our BMW Charging and MINI Charging services. Other automotive manufacturers can also make this solution available to their customers under their own brand name. 

“DCS was set up at the BMW Group at around the same time the BMW i3 was released onto the market. We soon recognised that we were doing pioneering work and decided to offer the service to other companies, as well. Today, DCS serves as an absolute enabler: Several well-known manufacturers are taking advantage of DCS’s award-winning offering. The business model is also very attractive: In 2021, bp joined the BMW Group and Daimler as the third partner, bringing in another 9,000 or so rapid charging points across Europe that will boost convenience and coverage and enhance customer benefits even further.”

 

Will you build your own exclusive public charging network for your customers in the future? Other manufacturers have already announced plans for this.

“We are committed to open networks. That is the most effective way to support the ramp-up and availability of infrastructure for our customers. This also helps realise the high capacity utilisation needed to make networks profitable. Through our investment in IONITY, we are strongly involved in building a public charging network.”

 

What can we expect from the BMW Group in the field of charging in 2022?

“We want to make e-mobility even easier to use on a day-to-day basis next year – because we need that for acceptance of electric cars to continue to grow. High-quality electric vehicles speak for themselves – with their impressive performance, driving dynamics and range. Adequate charging infrastructure is the bottleneck. Once this is available, the transition to e-mobility will become even more dynamic. 

“I am very confident this shift will take place in the near future. We see how quickly e-mobility can gain momentum in markets like China and some of our European neighbours, for instance. The important thing is: The complete package for our customers has to be right. We are committed to this.”

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