BMW invests in smart charging that relies only on Bluetooth

BMW invests in the German charging infrastructure startup HeyCharge through its venture capital arm, BMW i Ventures. With its patent-pending SecureCharge technology, HeyCharge enables EV charging in underground parking garages without an internet connection.

In addition, their cloud platform handles the billing. BMW iVentures took the lead in the seed funding round through which HeyCharge raised $4.7 million. Also participating was Statkraft Ventures, the venture capital arm of Statkraft, the Norway-based renewable energy company.

Kasper Sage, a Managing Partner at BMW i Ventures, considers HeyCharge the first company to enable intelligent charging of electric vehicles without an internet connection. “This is the key to making charging stations commercially viable regardless of location,” he said. Usually, smart charging stations require an internet connection and an app or RFID card to be activated.

This is where HeyCharge wants to come in. Their ‘SecureCharge’ technology helps the charger and HeyCharge app communicate via Bluetooth. The company also claims this would minimise the latency between phone and charger while maximising system availability.

The market potential is huge. “With 40% of Europeans and 37% of US renters living in apartment buildings, there is a large section of the population for whom going electric is too difficult because they can’t charge at home,” explained Chris Cardé, founder and CEO of HeyCharge.

What is more, HeyCharge hopes their ‘AccessPoint’ solution will reduce the total cost by up to 80 per cent in future, including hardware, installation, communication and service. Said AccessPoint allows access and control of billing and will also be offered to upgrade existing charging stations. For new facilities, HeyCharge delivers a 22 kW wall box.

“Our solution makes not only electric vehicle charging scalable but also more cost-effective,” added Cardé. “We are thrilled to partner with BMW i Ventures in this round and look forward to leveraging this investment to position and scale our product in the market globally and provide low-cost charging options to consumers.”

The partners have not disclosed a timeline or scope of any future roll-out. However, BMW manager Sage added, BMW iVentures saw HeyCharge as a “crucial technology for the nationwide expansion of the charging infrastructure.” While BMW’s investment branch is based in Silicon Valley, it is safe to assume he meant Germany when speaking of the nation. Both BMW and HeyCharge have their HQs in Munich. (PI in German),


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