BMW wants to install charging points for electric cars on street lamps along road sides and in car parks across the UK.
The plan, demonstrated at the company's Mini facility in Oxford, is a simple solution to the lack of electric vehicle charging points compared to petrol stations. This contributes to 'range anxiety' - the fear of running out of electricity before reaching one of the few charging stations dotted across the country.
BMW claims the system, called Light & Charge, will let cities "significantly reduce" their energy consumption by using LED lights and provide a cost-effective and simple way for local authorities to offer electric car charging without installing the cabling required for separate charging stations.
There are currently around 8,500 electric vehicle chargers in the UK at 3,200 stations. By comparison, there are more than 8,500 petrol stations, each with many refuelling points.
BMW produces two electric cars; the i8 is a hybrid combining a petrol engine with an electric motor, which can either be charged by the engine and energy harvesting from the braking system, or through a charger. The i3 is available with the same system, and also as a fully electric car which would benefit from the Light & Charge system. Neither car's charging system is proprietary, so they can be used with any public charger.
The BMW Light & Charge project was described as "a neat solution" by Oxfordshire County Council, although it isn't yet know if the system will be installed and made available to the public.
Frank Bachmann, managing director of the Mini plant in Oxford, said Light & Charge is "a simple and innovative solution which aims to integrate a charging station network into the urban landscape and this is essential if we want to see more electric vehicles on the road in our cities in the future."
The news comes in the same week that Tesla announced it would be expanding its UK network of Superchargers, which recharge its Model S electric cars in around an hour, providing them with enough power for around 250 to 300 miles of driving. There are now 68 Superchargers spread across 22 stations in the UK. Tesla claims its customers can now drive from Edinburgh to Venice using the charging network.