BMW's i electric car brand is to offer a new digital charging service (DCS) to provide predictive, convenient, cost-effective and 'green' power-optimised charging.

"BMW... is the first automobile manufacturer to offer its customers a system that intelligently incorporates charging into everyday life and at the same time helps to considerably reduce charging costs. [DCS] optimises charging technology for i and iPerformance vehicles and will be extended in a later phase to other brands. Pilot markets for the new service are Germany and the Netherlands in early 2017, subsequently more countries will follow," the automaker said in a statement.

After activation, the service carries out charging fully independently and autonomously. DCS is based on two core functions: tariff and solar optimised vehicle charging. In the case of tariff-optimised charging, the service aligns the charging plan to the customer's electricity tariff. Cost-efficiency of the charging process is improved and the vehicle is automatically charged at the lowest electricity rates. In some markets, i cooperates with innovative energy providers so that customers are able to receive cost reimbursements.

In the case of solar-optimised charging, the service is aligned to the domestic photovoltaic system. DCS predicts the solar power based on the weather forecast and the output of the installed PV system specified by the customer and establishes a charging plan. In this way, the amount of electricity not consumed at the time of being generated in the home can also be used for cost-efficient charging of the electric vehicle. The vehicle is automatically charged in optimum combination with the self-generated solar power.

BMW's i customers can activate the service using the ConnectedDrive portal.

The automaker said DCS was the result of "broad research and cooperation projects in the US (BMW ChargeForward) and Germany (eMOBILie)

Coinciding with the launch of DCS, i is launching two additional i Wallbox models for home charging. With further developed charging electronics, these are now able to handle three-phase charging currents of up to 22 kW. The top Wallbox Connect model has a factory-set WiFi connection and is, BMW said, "an ideal match for" DCS.

It is possible to record the amount of electricity generated via the Wallbox Connect separately for each vehicle and to export the data following the charging process, for example, for recording charging costs.

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