BMW Group South Africa (BMW SA) and Nissan South Africa (NSA) on Monday signed a memorandum of agreement that would see the two vehicle manufacturers jointly plan and build a national grid of electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) vehicle charging stations for use by both Nissan and BMW vehicles. “Our introduction of the 100% electric Nissan LEAF in 2013 [in South Africa] was part of Nissan’s global drive to advance sustainable mobility and to grow the market for zero-emission vehicles. With this in mind we believe our partnership with BMW SA is a sound investment to create a future-proof automobile industry,” said NSA MD Mike Whitfield.
BMW SA introduced its EV and PHEV models, the BMW i3 and the BMW i8, to the local market in March this year.
Whitfield said there was no specific rand-value attached to the agreement. He said the combined infrastructure network would probably cover the major cities, and that the agreement would see the parties work with entities such as local government and property developers to ensure a sufficient number of charging stations. “Charging anxiety is still a major hindrance to sales,” noted Whitfield. NSA sold 10 LEAFs in April, and BMW SA 4 i3s, and 8 i8s. BMW SA MD Tim Abbott believed industry-wide cooperation was the key to the future success of EVs. “We have successfully launched the BMW i3 and i8. A key imperative of our strategy is to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is rolled out to help increase consumer confidence in the viability of electric vehicles. “We therefore believe that in order for the introduction and expansion of electric vehicles as well as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to be successful in this market, we need to work together. Our partnership with Nissan is the first step towards that.” The agreement would see BMW SA and NSA roll out direct current fast-charging stations that are equipped with both the Combined Charging System 2 used by BMW’s electric and plug-in hybrid models, and the Charge de Move system plug standards used by Nissan’s 100% electric LEAF. The national grid of charging stations would also make use of smaller alternating current type vehicle chargers in certain regions. It terms of the newly signed agreement these chargers would be equipped with type 2 sockets that allowed the connection of all EVs and PHEVs. The planning and building of a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure would be managed by a joint task team comprising executives from both manufacturers. “By sharing expertise, ideas and challenges, BMW and Nissan will accelerate the growth and consumer acceptance of the EV and PHEV market to the benefit of the entire automotive industry,” noted Economist.co.za chief economist Mike Schüssler. The agreement between BMW SA and NSA was effective immediately and would be in effect until 2017.