BMW i Ventures, the BMW Group’s venture capital arm, recently announced a lead investment in HeyCharge, a German startup focused on expanding and democratizing access to vehicle charging stations in locations like apartment complexes and office buildings. Featured in Mountain View, California-based Y Combinator’s summer 2021 batch of start-ups, HeyCharge is looking to cater to the 46% of the population in Europe and 37% in the U.S. who reside in apartment buildings (the portion is even greater for Germany, at 56%).
Traditionally, charging solutions found in parking garages have been limited thanks to a lack of Internet connectivity and the inability to install a traditional wall-mounted charging apparatus. Chris Cardé, the founder and CEO of HeyCharge, identified the problem when he brought his first electric vehicle home to an apartment building in Munich, Germany. According to BMW, nearly every new car sold will be an EV by the year 2040, meaning the necessity for charging solutions—both traditional and those geared toward office building and apartment complex parking garages—will continue to grow.
“The rapid growth of the electric vehicle market in coming years will necessitate greater infrastructure build-out of charging solutions around the globe,” said Kasper Sage, managing partner, BMW i Ventures. “HeyCharge is the first company to enable EV-charging without internet connection, which is a key enabler to cover untapped white-spots. With HeyCharge’s technology, it becomes attractive to install chargers in locations that before would have not been commercially viable.”
HeyCharge currently offers a pair of innovative solutions to meet the demands of urban charging scenarios. The first is SecureCharge, with effectively eliminates the need for an onsite Internet connection by instead using either a direct connection or Bluetooth to communicate with the HeyCharge app. SecureCharge is further described as maximizing charging availability and minimizing phone-to-charger latency.
The second solution from HeyCharge is referred to as Access Point, which provides the necessary basis for condo and apartment dwellers to install their own wall-mounted charging box in their parking area. Access control, consumption, and invoicing are all handled on the building side of the equation, and the system allows for a fast and easy installation of a wall-mounted charging setup by an electrician. HeyCharge also offers its own wall-mounted charger.
“We are thrilled to be working with BMW i Ventures in this round and look forward to using this investment to scale our product globally and bring low-cost charging options to consumers,” said HeyCharge founder and CEO Chris Cardé.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]