BMW i Ventures invests in HeyCharge’s EV charging without internet connectivity

17 January 2022

BMW is keen to fund promising startups via its venture arm and has announced a lead investment in Munich-based HeyCharge. The young company, founded in 2020, has developed a new technology to improve access to charging stations in apartment complexes, office buildings and other infrastructure locations.

Backed by American startup accelerator Y Combinator, HeyCharge has raised $4.7 million (€4.1 million) in a seed round led by BMW i Ventures, with Statkraft Ventures, a large European generator of renewable energy, also participating. The fresh capital will help HeyCharge roll out the product to markets across the globe. Apart from targeting consumers, the startup will also work with businesses to embed its technology.

Solving connectivity issues

HeyCharge said it is on a mission to democratise access to charging stations. The company’s patent-pending technology removes the need for an on-site internet connection, which should make it easier for customers to pay in places where it is tricky to get a stable connection.

Many drivers of electrically-chargeable vehicles (EVs) often face connectivity issues at charging stations that are found underground. Authentication, consumption metering, and cloud accessibility, all require a reliable internet connection, which is not always available. HeyCharge wants to change that by enabling internet-independent communication between the charging station and the user’s mobile app.

‘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.’

BMW said its investment would amplify EV charging rollout at residential locations. With the future of mobility being electric and the number of EVs increasing across the globe at a rapid pace, the need for scalable charging options is necessary, the carmaker added. In Germany, 56% of people live in apartment buildings, with this figure being slightly lower across Europe at 46%. BMW said these locations are an ‘obvious next step’ for the expansion of EV charging, but the current dependence on internet connectivity is stifling scalability.

Bring your own wallbox

HeyCharge hopes to change that with its technology, allowing the app and chargers to communicate directly over Bluetooth. This can maximise system availability while minimising latency between the phone and the charger. The company also said total costs can be reduced by up to 80% in buildings when combined with its hardware component, AccessPoint.

‘In addition to our full wallbox, the HeyCharge Access Point is a bring-your-own wallbox device that places the bare minimum for access control and consumption invoicing on the building side, allowing for a fast and easy installation that can be made by any electrician in minutes,’ said Chris Cardé, HeyCharge founder and CEO. ‘We are excited to use this investment to scale our product globally and bring low-cost charging options to consumers.’

Cardé argues that the company’s hassle-free low-cost charging options will make EV-charging possible wherever you live or work. BMW’s investment in the company is one of several the carmaker has made in recent months. In December, the German manufacturer invested in US-based startup actnano, a tech company that makes protective nanocoating for vehicles.