A lack of chargers could stunt the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, but BMW hopes to accelerate the shift by expanding the number of EV chargers across Korea.
BMW Korea recently opened two BMW Charging Stations in Incheon that can together charge up to 96 EVs at the same time.
Forty chargers were built at the BMW Driving Center on Yeongjong Island, which can charge 80 EVs simultaneously and is the largest single charging station in Korea.
The other station is located on the first basement level of Paradise City Hotel, which has eight EV chargers that can charge 16 EVs at once.
Both stations are open to everyone, not just visitors to the center or hotel.
With the latest additions, BMW now has a total of 802 EV chargers in Korea, almost a threefold increase from two years ago when there were 282.
“BMW doesn’t prioritize only selling EVs, but also providing an environment that can charge and fix EVs by taking full responsibility as a car manufacturer,” said Kim Nam-kyun, manager at BMW’s charging station in Incheon.
The Korean unit of the German carmaker said it aims to build 20 more stations, or 200 more chargers, across the country by the end of next year. By that time, the company will have a total of 1,000 chargers in Korea.
The announcement came as BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse visited Korea and held a meeting with Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong earlier in the month.
The two chiefs agreed on expanding the supply of Samsung SDI’s batteries for BMW cars. SDI’s batteries are equipped in various BMW vehicles including the latest i7.
Samsung’s Lee bought 10 BMW i7 cars, which will be used as corporate vehicles at Samsung companies.
But building more chargers is not the only goal BMW has for Korea.
The automaker has been strengthening its after-sale service in Korea, which has been known as one of the biggest factors preventing people from buying EVs. Currently, BMW owners can get their cars checked and repaired at a total of 68 service centers, the largest figure for any imported brand in Korea.
The automaker also has some 220 experts who are specialized in repairs and battery replacement.
BMW released its i3 in Korea in 2014, the first import brand to bring an EV to the local market. It built 120 EV chargers at various Emart branches at the time. It constructed another 150 chargers in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi.
BMW sold a total of 71,713 vehicles in Korea this year as of the end of November. Of them, 4,186 were EVs, an 11-fold jump from the previous year.
BY SARAH CHEA [firstname.lastname@example.org]