Car giants launch pan-European electric vehicle charging venture

A group of the world's largest car manufacturers, including Ford, BMW and Porsche, have joined forces to develop a network of high-power charging systems across Europe, to stimulate the growth of electric vehicles (EVs).

BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford and Porsche’s parent company Volkswagen (VW) have been named as the founding partners to the IONITY joint venture. Announced last week (3 November), the group will launch approximately 400 High-Power Charging (HPC) stations for EVs by 2020.

“The first pan-European HPC network plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles. IONITY will deliver our common goal of providing customers with fast charging and digital payment capability, to facilitate long-distance travel,” BMW’s senior manager and chief executive of IONITY Michael Hajesch said.

The group has set a target to open 20 stations to the public by the end of 2017, located on major roads in Norway, Austria and Germany. By 2018, the network will expand to more than 100 stations.

Charging points will have a capacity of up to 350kW, and will use a European standard Combine Charging System to reduce charging times. Each charger will be brand agnostic, meaning that any EV can use the infrastructure.

Infrastructure evolution

As EV manufacturers improve the driving range of their vehicles, the need for quick and widely-available charging infrastructure has grown. The founding members of IONITY have been working to facilitate this growth since late 2016.

Previously, Japanese carmaker Nissan claimed that EV charging station numbers would overtake petrol stations in 2020 and Shell is already opening a range of rapid charging service systems across its UK petrol stations.

In fact, the UK is in the early days of an infrastructure evolution. The Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL) have allocated £4.5m to 25 London boroughs to roll-out 1,500 new charging points. Last month, the UK Government published its Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which requires large petrol retailers and motorway services to install charging points.

However, city planners have been urged to introduce policy guidance that brings car manufacturers, network operators and innovators together to ensure that streets aren’t littered with “white elephants” and “stranded assets”.

Matt Mace

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