If you think that a BMW i3 is a rare sight in Germany, a charging station that caters to the carmaker’s electric offers is even rarer. During a recent four-day test drive, which came a year after BMW launched the i3, the EV managed to cruise around 200km (125 miles) in Berlin, which one of the four cities picked by the German government to promote electric cars.
By the time the i3's battery indicator showed that it is running its last 10km, the EV had to be driven into one of the around 500 charging stations in Berlin. But that is also when the problem started to show up. The i3 visited three charging stations to recharge, but, two of them weren't part of BMW's payment system.
The third one was in a shopping mall, but didn't work. The situation underscores the current hurdle that electric driving has to surpass to entice people to embrace this kind of mobility. The situation also brings some questions on whether electric driving is really practical for urban consumers who have no garages or dedicated parking areas.
"These are the kinds of growing pains that you simply have to persevere through," remarked Joerg Welke, spokesman for Berlin's eMO agency for electric mobility. He remarked that "a lot of people and companies” are working to improve the situation.
Having a nearby charging station where people can easily charge their EVs is a critical part of a bid to attract customers not only in Berlin or Germany, but also in other markets around the world.
One of the leaders in the segment, Tesla Motors Inc., is trying to appeal to customers to embrace electric mobility by setting its own fast-charging stations. It now has around 280 superchargers in North America, Europe and Asia, and is adding charging stations in China.