A year ago, BMW’s carsharing program known as ReachNow folded up shop in San Francisco and moved to Seattle. The service began with 370 cars, including electric BMW i3 sedans and conventional 3 Series and MINI offerings. A year later, the ReachNow fleet has grown to more than 700 cars and expanded to Portland and Brooklyn. It now has more than 50,000 members.
Together with eluminocity US, BMW has developed its Light & Charge system, which converts existing street and parking lot light poles into connected nodes on a smart city network. Each pole includes high-efficiency LED lighting, EV chargers, and a sophisticated Sensor Bus that connects the site to the cloud. Each Light & Charge location will include one ChargePoint DC Fast Charger and up to four AC Level II chargers. ChargePoint is the largest EV Charging network in the US. All of the chargers are available to the public and compatible with any EV equipped with a standard SAE J1772 charging port. (Editor’s Note: A Berlin startup named ubitricity has been playing the streetlight + EV charger game for several years. We visited ubitricity in Berlin in 2014. We’ll look to follow up with the company to try to see where things are going there and what they think of BMW’s new system.)
This week, BMW unveiled the first of its new Light & Charge locations at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, a popular place known for its sustainable practices. “Public access to charging stations is a critical step to increasing the adoption and use of electric vehicles,” says ReachNow CEO Steve Banfield. “The more EV charging stations there are, the faster we can scale the number of EVs in the ReachNow fleet and make sustainable urban transportation services more widely available.”