The BMW subsidiary, BMW i Ventures, announced it was injecting an investment in Coulomb Technologies. Their ChargePoint stations handle a number of manufacturers electric vehicles.
One thing to keep in mind regarding powering electric vehicles is that the recharging process is different for every model. In addition, there are billing and authentication issues. How do you get the bill to the right person – especially if you’re charging (re-energizing and billing) a rental – especially the hourly rentals that are cropping up in mega-cities.
The ability to standardize on a plug-in/power-level is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s all of the other little things and software gotchas that have to be solved to make it work and finding (and funding) an appropriate solution is worth pursuing.
But an interesting tidbit from an article on charging points found on ZDNet brought another name besides BMW to surface as an investor, the Toyota group’s Toyota Tsusho Corp.
BMW has announced that it will be looking at online-ordering as an option for obtaining i-3s. I’ve ordered a couple of cars online sight unseen (through the internet desk of dealerships). One of them I actually hadn’t had a chance to drive before I ordered it, a 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R in 1990 (order based solely on an article praising the car found in Autoweek).
But online ordering will work better in countries that don’t have the byzantine dealer/manufacturer relationships the US has. In the beginning of the mass production of automobiles, manufacturers needed to wholesale cars to dealers in order to damp the vagaries of demand. Dealers would place a months worth of orders for cars with the factory, and cut a check to the manufacturer (while working with a finance company to cover the costs – which eventually became an arm of the auto manufacturer (see reference to the Toyota Tsusho Corp above)). That insulated the manufacturer’s rigid preoduction process from the vagaries of the retail market. Cars moved off the factory floor and sat on the dealers’ lots until sold.
There was an article on the online ordering process in Bloomberg. One telling quote from the article, “(t)he setup may help BMW reduce expenses: Internet sales require less than half the cost of distributing through a dealership, according to Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the Center Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. That allows online car prices to be 5 percent to 7 percent less than showroom tags.“
One other telling point was brought up further in the article. It quoted projected production figures for the i3 based on research done by IHS Global Insight (http://www.ihs.com/products/global-insight/index.aspx), they believe BMW will deliver 31,380 i3s in the first year of production. Now, where have we heard that approximate number before (and I’d love to see the calculations that led then to the 31,380 as opposed to ‘approximately 30,000′).
C-evolution Electric Scooter
There are a number of electric bike manufacturers and it was only a matter of time before BMW Motorrad got into the mix. They’ve introduced their C-evolution, and interesting urban mobility solution. And they’ve given us this vid of the bike in action: