Charging infrastructure in underground car parks: BMW i Ventures invests in HeyCharge

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Charging infrastructure in underground car parks: BMW i Ventures invests in HeyCharge-underground

BMW i Ventures, the venture capital provider for innovative and powerful start-ups in the automotive sector, is investing as lead investor in the Munich start-up HeyCharge, which aims to simplify access for charging electric cars. With its patent-pending “SecureCharge” technology, HeyCharge enables e-cars to be charged in underground and multi-storey car parks – independent of an internet connection. The start-up raised a total of 4.7 million US dollars for its seed financing, the equivalent of a good 4.1 million euros. HeyCharge is one of the 2021 summer graduates of the US start-up accelerator Y Combinator.

“The market for electric cars will grow rapidly in the coming years and will require greater expansion of the charging infrastructure worldwide,” says Kasper Sage, Managing Partner at BMW i Ventures. HeyCharge is the first company to enable intelligent charging of electric cars without an internet connection, according to the Munich car manufacturer in a recent press release. This is the key to making charging stations commercially viable regardless of location. “That’s why we see HeyCharge as a crucial technology for the nationwide expansion of the charging infrastructure,” says Sage.

Smart e-charging stations usually require an internet connection and an app or an RFID card in order to be activated. However, most underground car parks and multi-storey car parks do not yet have a good internet connection. Chris Carde, former Google software specialist and founder and CEO of HeyCharge, recognized the problem when he couldn’t charge his own electric car in the underground car park of his Munich apartment building. As the number of electric cars on the road increases – by 2040 practically every new car sold worldwide could be an electric car – there is a great need for scalable charging options that fit into the everyday life of EV drivers.

According to Eurostat, around 56 percent of the population in Germany lived in apartment buildings in 2019, compared to 46 percent in Europe – which means that there is a need for more charging stations in these places. However, the dependency on an internet connection makes the installation of charging boxes more difficult, especially in underground and multi-storey car parks. HeyCharge’s goal is to close this gap; and at the same time to offer consumers and companies a cost-effective, everyday and scalable solution that works securely even without the Internet.

Up to 80 percent lower overall costs

The patent-pending technology behind “SecureCharge” enables communication between chargers and the HeyCharge app or the software development kit (SDK) via Bluetooth – an internet connection on site is therefore no longer necessary. The technology minimizes the latency between phone and charger while maximizing system availability. In combination with the Heycharge charger, the “Access Point”, the total cost of hardware, installation, communication and service BMW should be reduced by up to 80 percent.

In addition to the Heycharge Wallbox (up to 22 kW charging power), the Heycharge Access Point offers an intelligent solution for access control and consumption settlement based on the so-called Mode-2 Loading Architecture. The advantage of this solution is above all the fact that existing charging points can be upgraded with simple means and in the shortest possible time. In a few minutes, the operation of the infrastructure could be ensured and new business models for partners and customers can be made possible.

“HeyCharge’s solution not only makes EV charging scalable, but also more cost-effective, allowing for easy EV charging wherever people live or work,” said Chris Carde, founder and CEO of HeyCharge. “We are excited to be partnering with BMW i Ventures in this round and look forward to using this investment to position and scale our product in the global marketplace and offer affordable charging to consumers.”

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