Johannesburg - We all know the chicken-and-egg conundrum facing all battery-car makers: you can't sell high-powered electric cars unless the charging infrastructure is in place and you can't get anybody to provide infrastructure until the cars are there to use it.
So this week BMW South Africa has announced a partnership with Schneider Electric to make both happen at the same time. The agreement includes checking the electrical installation in customers' homes, and supplying, installing and maintaining their wallbox charging point, as well as maintenance and other services for BMW i cars.
That'll allow BMW i3 or BMW i8 owners to hook up their car and recharge safely while they're at home or in the office; the objective is that dedicated, user-friendly and efficient charging facilities should be available for installation in home garages and office parking by the time the i3 is launched locally - which is planned for early in 2015.
BMW South Africa marketing director Antonio Antela Martinez said BMW was adopting an all-round approach to electric mobility, offering more than just a battery-powered car.
"During our all pilot testing all over the world we listened to our customers," he said. "What they want is '360° Electric' solutions that cater to all the requirements of electric driving.
"So we see the professional installation of a wallbox as a key factor in marketing electric vehicles - which is where Schneider Electric comes in."
Schneider will work together with BMW sales staff and customers; the installation package will be supplied by Schneider but managed by BMW, and can be customised to customers' requirements.
The four-seater i3 is intended primarily as urban transport; it weighs only 1195kg but its sychronous electric motor delivers 125kW and 250Nm, practically from a standstill.
It will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.2 seconds and, crucially, BMW quotes a range of 130-160km in everyday conditions. And if that's not far enough, the i3 will also be available in South Africa with a 'range extender' petrol engine that will stretch the car's reach out to about 300km - and you'll be able to 'recharge' at any fuel station.