• New, smaller BMW i DC Fast Charger more affordable
  • Provides 80% charge in 30 minutes
  • Free charging for California i3 drivers through 2015

BMW announced a new DC fast charger that will soon provide quick and free electric vehicle (EV) charging at public charging stations. Through 2015, California drivers of the BMW i3 can access free, 30-minute charging at NRG eVgo stations equipped with the new chargers. DC fast chargers can provide the i3 with an 80% charge in just half an hour.

Some stations are already equipped with DC fast chargers, but BMW says that its new charger, developed with the help of Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, is smaller and more affordable than existing units. The automaker hopes the charger's relatively low price of $6,548 will contribute to quick growth in the nation's EV-charging infrastructure.

NRG eVgo will provide at least 100 of the new chargers at its California stations. BMW i3 drivers must sign up for the ChargeNow DC Fast program and use a ChargeNow card to access free charging. Drivers can also quickly top off batteries using i DC Fast Chargers at BMW i Centers.

The $41,350 all-electric i3 has a range of 80-100 miles and is on sale now. BMW will soon offer a range-extender version equipped with a small gasoline engine to recharge batteries on the go. The base price for that model is $45,200, although buyers of both i3 versions may enjoy significant federal and local EV incentives. Adding the optional charging port necessary to use a DC fast charger tacks on $700.

Most EVs are available with the SAE Combo 1 charging port, typically as an extra-cost option. The good news for all EV drivers is that the standard connection has been widely adopted, so a Nissan Leaf driver can use the BMW i DC Fast Charger or an i3 driver can access a DC fast charger on another charging network.

Building the public charging infrastructure is key to a wider adoption of electric vehicles. While most drivers don't need 80 or more miles for their daily transportation needs, range anxiety remains a hurdle to expanding zero-emissions driving. The ability to charge an EV such as the BMW i3 quickly at more locations certainly helps. And for California drivers, charging at no cost certainly makes driving an EV more appealing.

What it means to you: Only BMW i3 drivers in California can access free DC fast charging at NRG eVgo stations across the state. EV drivers everywhere can benefit from expanding quick charging at public charging stations, provided they have an SAE Combo 1 charging port.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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