Carmakers don’t seem to be so willing to engage in a EV “range race” as much as they love horsepower in internal combustion engines. BMW for one, has said that 600 km per charge is where it’s at, and where it’s going to stay. Any further and you’ll have to make a charging stop.
BMW i4 project leader David Ferrufino told WhichCar that Munich had made the decision to introduce a cap across its electrified line-up, which is 600 km for full EVs and 100 km for plug-in hybrids. He was responding to a question on whether BMW will make EVs with a 1,000 km range.
“One thousand kilometres of range is not a target we have with our fully-electric cars. We are aiming for 600 km for our fully-electric cars, and 100 km with our plug-in hybrids in everyday driving,” Ferrufino said at a media conference last week, adding that long journeys are still viable.
“We not only have the advancements in battery technology, we also have the public charging network – which is growing rapidly. Going cross-country in Europe from Norway to Italy is already a joyful experience when you do it in an electric car,” he added.
The fully electric i4, which will be launching soon in Malaysia, has an 83.9 kWh battery powering a single 340 PS/430 Nm motor. The four-door coupe does the 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.7 seconds and has an electronically-governed top speed of 190 km/h. It’s capable of 590 km on a full charge in the WLTP cycle.
It supports up to 200 kW DC fast-charging via a CCS Combo 2 connection, so a 10-minute recharge provides up to 164 km of range. Just 31 minutes is needed to raise charge levels from 10 to 80% – factor this in and a 1,000 km journey can be done with a single half-hour break. As for regular charging, the i4 comes with an 11 kW integrated AC charger that will fully top up a depleted battery under 8.5 hours.
But it won’t be 600 km across the EV board. “The maximum range of the car is dependent on the segment of the vehicle where it is being offered. For example, we don’t think a range of 600 km will be suitable for a BMW i3 as an urban car, but when it comes to the BMW iX or i4, we think that around 600 km is a very customer-friendly solution,” Ferrufino said.
“So you have two things: you have the battery making more and more progress, but also charging speed and infrastructure making big steps forward,” he added.
Here’s some backrgound. The 1,000 km question likely came about because Chinese carmakers such as EV specialist Nio have been aiming for that mark. Nio is touting over 1,000 km from its 150 kWh battery, which will be offered in the ET7 EV in late 2022. 1k km will enable travel from Shanghai to Wuhan, for instance, and that’s a strong selling point when trying to convert consumers from ICE power. The Nio ET7 Currently, the Tesla Model S Long Range is the EV marathon leader at 652 km.
It’s typical of consumers to want unlimited everything and more of what’s good, but think about it – 600 km is a lot. With the i4’s range, one can travel from Johor Bahru to Ipoh (534 km) with range to spare. Imagine that long drive without stopping at all. If you’re going to stop for a meal, surely half an hour of recharging while you refill your stomach is not too troublesome? With belly and battery recharged, powering on to Penang won’t be an issue.
Of course, this is contingent on the availability of DC fast chargers, but the infrastructure is being planned as we type. Last month, BMW Malaysia confirmed plans to install DC fast chargers at key points across the country. No specific figures were given, but our source indicated that chargers will be installed at highly frequented locations such as shopping malls and rest stops along major highways. DC chargers will also be installed at selected BMW dealerships.
Porsche, which launched the Taycan EV here last year, will together with Shell install 12 charging stations at six Shell stations along the PLUS North-South Expressway by mid-2022. If you take our JB to Ipoh/Penang example, you’ll pass Porsche-Shell’s 180 kW DC chargers at R&Rs in Tangkak, Seremban, Tapah and Simpang Pulai just before Ipoh.
By the way, Porsche Centre Ara Damansara also has chargers, and it’s just off the Subang exit. Porsche Centre Penang has one too, so you’ll be able to easily recharge for the return journey.
Soon, with all these fast chargers set up along the NSE, outstation travel in an EV will be relatively straightforward. It would still require more planning than petrol of course, but owners will develop that habit in no time. We think 600 km is good enough, what do you think?
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