mini_echarged.automotiveIT

The Drive eCharged partners are using electric Minis to test the new charging technology (Photo: Mini)

Premium carmaker BMW has teamed up with power-technology group Siemens and the city of Munich to jointly develop a system to recharge electric vehicles in a much shorter time than is possible today.

The system, which will allow the use of the same charging socket with both direct current or alternating current, should become an international standard, the partners said in a press release. The partnership is called "Drive eCharged."

"Over the medium term, it is expected that DC systems will be able to charge a vehicle to the equivalent of a 100-kilometer range in just 15 minutes," the partners said.

The companies tested the charging system in September, using a BMW ActiveE vehicle. They are putting in place 32 public charging stations and 36 home charging stations in Munich to further test the technology.

Battery charging times and the relatively limited range of battery-powered cars are widely seen as the biggest impediment to the broad adoption of electric vehicles.

That is why several new electric vehicles come with range-extending gasoline engines and automakers and their partners are searching for big improvements in charging technology.

Siemens said charging times of half an hour or less can be achieved with DC technology. Moreover, with power converters located outside the vehicle at the charging station, cars can be made lighter, the partners said.