One of the biggest setbacks for electric cars has been the problem of charging. With so few stations around to allow you to top up the car’s batteries with juice, it’s been suggested that this might be a limiting factor stopping the wider uptake of electric vehicles. But BMW hopes to change that by fitting charging stations onto pre-existing street lights.
Announced last year, but showcased at the annual Low Carbon Oxford Week event in the U.K. this month, the system developed by the German automobile company hopes to tap into the electric system already routed throughout all our cities. Called “Light and Charge,” two prototypes already exist outside BMW’s headquarters, and they plan on rolling out more in a larger trial.
“Seamless charging infrastructure is essential if we want to see more electric vehicles on the road in our cities in the future,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, a BMW management board member, told Reuters last year. The hope is to make electric charging stations more numerous and accessible than even petrol stations, allowing you to charge your car as you shop.
Rather than having to install new individual charging stations in cities, the Light and Charge system works by integrating energy-efficient LED lights with BMW’s ChargeNow technology that can be fitted onto current lighting systems already in place. Customers would then be able to pay for the electricity through a control panel on which they can swipe a charge card. BMW are also investigating a way in which people could pay through an app on their phone.
In addition to this, the new stations will be able to charge any type of electric car, regardless of their make or model, with BMW reportedly having been in talks with their rival Telsa. In the press release last year, they announced plans to roll out a trial system in Munich at some point this year, so hopefully we might actually see this happening soon!