Despite their ability to run on electricity and help bring our carbon footprint down, one of the biggest issues with electric cars is their range. Few EV’s can go over 100 miles on a single charge and this is the main reason why they have not made the huge impression we hoped for. However, this could all change thanks to an incredible innovation by BMW which may enable electric cars to be charged by street lights.
A Game Changing Development?
A pilot project will be run in Munich next year with local authority lighting networks used to power the EVs. Two prototype Light & Charge street lights have been developed by BMW and it combines Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) with BMW ChargeNow recharging stations. According to BMW AG board of management member, Peter Schwarzenbauer, we need seamless charging infrastructure if we want more electric cars on the streets and roads.
The first charging lights will be grafted onto existing local street lighting and the extra charging stations can be used by any number of drivers regardless of the electric provider or vehicle model. Two street lights have already been installed outside BMW HQ and it is possible to use a mobile phone app to pay for charging your car.
BMW is known for having developed the i3 city car and i8 hybrid, considered to be two of the most advanced EVs on the market. Yet the limited operating range of electric cars continues to be a problem along with the lack of charging stations and the length of time it takes to charge a car.
As well as developing street lighting, BMW is also investing in apps and software that help you find charging stations and parking spaces. It has also met with Tesla Motors, one of its biggest EV rivals, in order to discuss the availability of charging stations. Daimler, another manufacturer, claims to have purchased RideScout and My Taxi, two Smartphone apps which allow the maker of Mercedes-Benz limos to provide services for individuals with no cars.
Electric Car Charging Stations To Be Installed On Supermotorways?
It seems as if motorways will become electric superhighways in order to coerce more people into becoming electric car drivers. A number of supercharging stations will be installed on various major UK roads by the end of 2014 which could allow EV drivers to travel across the country in a single trip.
Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and PayPal fame will be installing the devices which will charge a Tesla vehicle in 20 minutes and provide a range of 130 miles. This compares favourably to existing electric cars which need overnight charging and have a range of less than 100 miles. These new stations would make it possible to drive across Britain without suffering from range anxiety.
The first network to be set up will go from Dover to London along the M20 and covers the M4 from London to Bristol and the M1 and M6 to Manchester via Birmingham. Although Tesla did not say which stations would be used, work is almost finished in the South Simms services which can be found by the M25 junction and the A1 in Hertfordshire.