BMW partners with GridCars to develop electric cars

South Africa may have a shortage of technical skills, but the country does not have a lack of entrepreneurs."Where technical skills and entrepreneurship exist together, we have a vibrant small business sector that is working with big business to achieve big results. This is especially the case where the activities, because of their very nature, are focused on small, vital niche areas of the national economy," says Ethel Nyembe, head of small enterprise at Standard Bank.

A recent episode of the Standard Bank supported The Growth Engines, series, featuring BMW South Africa and GridCars, vividly expressed this point.

"We in South Africa will also follow the early adopter technology curve that applies to electric or plug in hybrid electrical vehicles. Once we have economies of scale and market acceptance, costs will come down. The challenge is ultimately to achieve a balance between mobility and utility," says Deena Govender, head of customer relations at BMW South Africa.

Major challenge

The factors regarding price will resolve themselves as market demand increases. The challenge, however, lies in developing unique solutions for charging the vehicles. It is here that BMW's partnership with GridCars is beginning to deliver the goods.

At the centre of creating a charging system for BMW is owner of GridCars, Winstone Jordaan, who squarely beat out international competition to give BMW South Africa a locally-engineered solution to supplying electrical charging points.

The Pretoria-based physicist used his skills to get his company to tackle the most common problems facing refuelling points, and came up with unique solutions that have been entirely self-funded. The company now employs eight people and is the only company in South Africa in this field.

"The term e-mobility is used universally to refer to anything involved with charging electric vehicles and the systems where the vehicle technology, energy and IT meet," says Jordaan. GridCars has used an open-charge point protocol to develop software that feeds both into the hardware from the front-end, and from the back-end to the aggregator, which houses all the information needed for BMW.

Location of charge points

The system will ultimately allow the driver of an electric vehicle to use in-car technology to identify where charge points are located, and also to book a charging slot exclusively for the vehicle. This is vital for a process that can take up to four hours when a battery is completely discharged. The objective, however, is for a car to be on charge when it is not in use. In this way charge and range are maximised.

Another convenience of the GridCars solution lies in its billing system. The charge point acquires the vehicle and driver information and automatically consolidates all costs incurred on a monthly invoice, so that a single amount is paid by the driver.

The advantage of the billing system is that this occurs, even though electricity points may be owned and operated by different companies. In itself, this solves a major problem by allowing various suppliers to enter the market with charge points and reducing the volume of points required for a supplier to become viable.

Posted on : 26 Oct,2021 | News Source : ABNews

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