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10-11-2014

Sockets: Why Didn't We Think Of This?

Sometimes, without realizing it, the solution to a problem can literally be right in front of you.
Carmakers are working to increase the number of public electric-car charging stations, but there's already plenty of existing electricity infrastructure.
BMW is taking advantage of that infrastructure by installing street lights with electric-car charging sockets in its headquarters city of Munich.
The company has built two of the "Light and Charge" street-light charging stations so far, according to Reuters, and plans to use them in a pilot program in its hometown.

The two units have been installed in front of BMW's headquarters. They aren't free to use, but drivers can pay through a mobile-phone app--perhaps a version of the ChargeNow interface BMW already offers with its electric cars.
The lights combine hardware from BMW's own ChargeNow charging stations with more-efficient LED elements, and BMW says they will be open for drivers of other manufacturers' electric cars to use.
BMW also claims the charging-socket equipped street lights can easily graft onto the existing municipal infrastructure.

That ease of installation could make the BMW Charge and Light street lights more attractive to other municipalities. The easier it is to install a charging station, the more there are likely to be.
If nothing else, combining charging stations with street lights could appeal to people who habitually park under street lights to avoid car theft or vandalism.
Since the launch of its i3 and i8 plug-in cars, BMW has paid considerable attention to the issue of charging infrastructure, showing off a solar-powered charging carport and launching the ChargeNow DC fast-charging station, which uses the Combined Charging Standards (CCS).