ReachNow Bringing First Light & Charge Stations to North America

BMW’s ReachNow mobility service is working with Seattle partners to add 20 charging locations that BMW said will be North America’s first Light & Charge stations available for public use.

ReachNow, Woodland Park Zoo, and the City of Seattle, opened the first of these locations yesterday with the goal of having 20 in place with 100 chargers. Each charging location will offer both DC fast chargers and 240-volt Level 2 chargers.

As the first city in North America making the Light & Charge system available to the public, the partners say it should help electric car adoption and support the city’s sustainability drive.

The Light & Charge system builds off a city’s existing street and parking lot infrastructure through a smart city network. Existing light poles are given high-efficiency LED lighting, electric car charging, and a Sensor Bus. The Sensor Bus takes a reading of parameters around the charger and connects to site to a cloud. It also offers computing power to other connected devices nearby.

BMW started the Light & Charge system three years ago in Europe, where it was tied into the BMW i ChargeNow network for cashless payments. The automaker used it as an opportunity to support its commitment to electric mobility.

In Seattle, BMW would like to see more of its plug-in electrified vehicles used in the ReachNow fleet; with the Light & Charge system offering a good opportunity to do so.

So far, the BMW i3 makes up 10 percent of the ReachNow fleet. BMW would like to see that percentage grow, and Seattle could be a good market to try it out tied to the Light & Charge system.

Since starting up less than a year ago, BMW says that the i3s in the ReachNow fleet has saved more than 55 tons of CO2 emissions.

“Our hope is that this is just the beginning. ReachNow is committed (to) adding EVs to our fleet and is working closely with the City of Seattle and other organizations across the city to make more EVs and EV charging infrastructure more accessible to everyone who lives in Seattle,” said ReachNow CEO Steve Banfield.

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Woodland Park Zoo appreciates how supporting Light & Charge ties into its sustainability goals, as it will help reduce carbon emissions that come from zoo operations. The zoo says it’s one of the leading institutions nationally on sustainable exhibit design; and that it was awarded the first LEED gold building certification in any zoo across the country.

The fast chargers are part of a $1.2 million investment BMW Group is making in Seattle. Each site gets one DC fast charger, bringing 20 more to the city for public use – more than doubling the number of fast chargers publicly available in the city.

The Seattle chargers will all run on the ChargePoint network, the largest charging network in the U.S. Each site will be available to the public and compatible with any PEV that has a standard SAE J1772 charging port.

As of November, the ReachNow fleet had about 800 vehicles in Seattle and Portland combined, including the electric BMW i3, BMW 3 Series, Mini Cooper, and Mini Clubman, with plans for fleet expansion. The ReachNow Ride pilot program was started in Seattle in December, with shared ride services competing with Uber and Lyft.


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