BMW has invested a lot of money in electric vehicles over the recent years, developing and manufacturing some of the most advanced electric cars on the market today, the i3 – which is the first mass-produced vehicle featuring a carbon-fiber body, and the plug-in hybrid i8. Lately, the German car maker has been putting a lot of effort in developing charging solutions to advance the EV movement. And its latest idea has great potential to solve one of the greatest obstacles faced by EV drivers: range anxiety.
The luxury automaker has unveiled a system that involves the integration of charging stations into street lights, which is a pretty innovative and practical solution. During the second Low Carbon Oxford Week, BMW’s Mini Plant demonstrated the “Light and Charge” system, which is basically a street lamp that doubles as a charging site, with an energy-efficient lighting system that uses four LED modules for main roads and two modules for less frequented roads and streets in residential areas.
The Light and Charge system consists of a charging point with a standard connector that is suitable for every electric vehicle model, along with a control panel that will adjust the light depending on whether there are cars around or not, and will allow those who own an electric car from a manufacturer other than BMW to use it.
This means that the system can help reduce electricity consumption in cities, because LED street lights are much more energy efficient than conventional lights, and because it can save a lot of energy by being able to reduce the amount of light that is emitted when there is no traffic around.
“Light & Charge is a simple and innovative solution which aims to integrate a charging station network into the urban landscape and this is essential if we want to see more electric vehicles on the road in our cities in the future. I’m delighted that the MINI plant is the first location in the UK to showcase BMW Group’s technological expertise not only in developing electric vehicles but also as part of a much wider commitment to electric mobility,” said Frank Bachmann, Managing Director, MINI Plant Oxford.
“We’re pleased that we have the opportunity to take a look at this innovative new technology as part of Low Carbon Oxford week. Combining energy-efficient street lighting with a recharging station for electric vehicles is a neat solution to the problems of on-street charging stations,” said representatives from Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council.
This system developed by BMW may be the most practical and cost-effective solution for expanding the EV charging network in cities. Since it can be integrated into the existing infrastructure, it doesn’t require construction of dedicated charging sites, which are pretty expensive to build and install, and that’s one of the reasons behind the lack of publicly available stations.
Hopefully it will be implemented in many cities around the world in the future, which would make owning and charging an electric vehicle a lot more convenient than it is now.