BMW Gilds Zero Emission Mobility Lily with free EV charging

The latest news on methane leaks and oil spills should help convince more new-car buyers to go electric. If that doesn’t work, the wallet angle should do, considering the high cost of gas. That might explain why BMW North America just announced a new free EV charging program to sweeten the pot. The home juice deal could also encourage BMW customers to buy bigger EVs, which doesn’t sound particularly eco-friendly, but BMW has that side at least partially covered by its new energy initiatives. low carbon steel.

Free EV charging and many charging stations to choose from

BMW developed the new electric vehicle charging program through Electrify America, which is well known as the award-winning builder of the largest open ultra-fast DC charging network in the United States. According to the company, their chargers can be used by “almost any electric vehicle on the road today”.

The numbers are piling up. Electrify America launched in 2018 and averages 4 charging station installations per week. The company is a few months behind its 2021 target of 800 charging stations with 3,500 ultra-fast chargers, but it is rapidly closing in. The latest count is 710 stations and 114 in development.

BMW buyers who shell out for a 2022 BMW electric vehicle will receive two years of free 30-minute EV charging sessions at all Electrify America charging stations, beginning on the day of purchase.

“The program will be launched with the sale of the new fully electric BMW iX xDrive50, BMW i4 eDrive40 and BMW i4 M50 in March. At no additional cost to the purchase price of the vehicle, customers will have immediate access to free charging at over 3,000 Electrify America chargers across the United States,” says Electrify America.

According to Electrify America, iX and i4 drivers can expect to collect charges lasting between 90 and 108 miles in as little as 10 minutes, respectively.

Low carbon steel for the green electric vehicle of the future

Electrify America also noted that additional models and benefits will be announced shortly.

Specifically, the company has enthused that its ultra-fast electric vehicle chargers will allow drivers to “easily charge even the largest all-electric BMW vehicles”. That’s all well and good, except bigger vehicles usually mean more steel, which raises all sorts of questions about the use of fossil fuels in steel mills.

Do not worry. The global steel industry is starting to take advantage of the green hydrogen trend to replace fossil fuels in steel mills. The idea is to run the plants with hydrogen from renewable or sustainable resources, which could include water, biomass, biogas and municipal wastewater, as well as regular water. Industrial sources are also in the mix, including waste gas and plastic waste, but the main focus is on harnessing renewable energy to extract hydrogen gas from water.

This is a huge development, given that the main source of hydrogen today is natural gas, with coal coming in second. Fossil players are scrambling to follow by tying carbon capture to their hydrogen production systems, but the market for green hydrogen is growing at breakneck speed and the prospects for catching up are slim.

BMW’s great green hydrogen adventure

BMW is careful to position its new European steel initiative as a low-carbon program, not a zero-carbon program. It’s a wise move, as the company apparently gives natural gas as well as green hydrogen some leeway.

“The BMW Group continues to reduce CO emissions2 emissions across its supplier network as part of its ambitious ongoing sustainability activities. Steel produced from natural gas or hydrogen and green energy, instead of fossil resources such as coal, makes an essential contribution to this,” explains BMW.

In fact, it looks like a mistranslation, since natural gas is a fossil resource, not a fossil resource “instead of”. In any case, BMW should review this natural gas angle. In addition to killing the planet with methane emissions, pressure is mounting for another all-out war in Europe amid the region’s dependence on Russian gas, with winter gas shortages and Russia newly built but yet to come. being operational the Nordstream II gas pipeline to Germany adding a heavy dose of geopolitics to the mix.

On a more positive note, BMW’s latest low-carbon steel announcement tips the balance in favor of green hydrogen, thanks to a new contract with steelmaker Salzgitter AG. Just a few years ago, Salzgitter considered natural gas to reduce the carbon footprint of its factories, but more recently the company has turned to green hydrogen.

Additionally, BMW signed a deal last fall with Swedish startup H2 Green Steel, a company that focuses exclusively on green hydrogen.

“Together, the two agreements will supply more than 40% of the steel required by the company’s European factories and save around 400,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year,” says BMW Group, noting that its European press factories process more than half a million tons of steel. steel per year.

More green hydrogen for EV charging stations

In a related angle, the idea of ​​using green hydrogen to power electric vehicle charging stations is starting to catch on. The idea would be to deploy electricity-generating hydrogen fuel cells for EV charging stations that don’t have easy access to the grid, but are accessible by road, waterway or pipeline.

Powering remote electric vehicle charging stations with solar panels or distributed wind power is an alternative, but fuel cells might be better suited in enough cases to create a market.

The Extreme E racing organization promoted the idea. Launched in 2021 as a sister organization to Alejandro Agog’s Formula E circuit, Extreme E aims to prove electric vehicle technology in harsh environments. This includes access to the charging station, which is why Extreme E chose fuel cell company AFC Energy to supply its alkaline fuel cells for electric vehicle charging.

AFC is already committed to the green hydrogen trend and the company could also target green ammonia. The AFC is on board for the Extreme E 2022 event, so stay tuned for more on that.

When it comes to fuel cell electric vehicles, BMW is among the many automakers that have ventured into these waters. The main focus these days is on heavy duty applications including aircraft as well as trucks and locomotives.

Despite the challenges in fuel cell passenger cars, BMW has moved forward with its BMW iX5 Hydrogen car – but with an important environmental caveat.

Provided that the hydrogen is produced from renewable energies and that the necessary infrastructure is availablethis technology can complement the BMW Group’s portfolio of electrified powertrains – and, in particular, meet the needs of customers who do not have their own access to electric charging infrastructure, frequently drive long distances or want a high degree of flexibility,” the company said. explained in a press release last August (emphasis added).

If all goes according to plan, fuel cell electric vehicles could gain space in BMW’s zero-emissions portfolio, so stay tuned for more.

follow me on twitter @TinaMCasey.

Photo (screenshot): BMW will increase the use of low-carbon steel for its European factories (courtesy BMW Group)


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