Carmakers team up to create charging network
BMW, Daimler, Ford, and VW bet on Ionity joint-venture to reach customers
10 November, 2017
Ionity stations will charge all brands of electric vehicles.
A group of car companies has taken an important step toward making electric cars a more viable option for consumers, by forming a joint venture to build hundreds of fast-charging stations across Europe. It comes as these and other carmakers have promised to put on the market a wave of new electric cars in the next few years, news wires reported.
The new initiative, called Ionity and headed by Michael Hajesch and Marcus Groll, who come respectively from BMW and Porsche, was announced on 2 November by BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and the Volkswagen Group, with its Audi and Porsche units. The new company would be headquartered in Munich with a goal to gradually set up a pan-European HPC network of charging points in order to facilitate long journeys, as the autonomy of electric vehicles is increasing and they can now travel up to 500km with one charge.
There are already 20 charging stations under the Ionity network that are being installed this year in Germany, Austria, and Norway at 120-km intervals along major roads, with a perspective for another 100 in various countries next year, the companies said. The stations are built and will be maintained through partnerships with existing gas stations companies like Tank & Rast, OMV and Circle K. The network is planned to be expanded to at least 400 chargers across Europe by 2020. To make this happen, Ionity is planning to work extensively with the existing infrastructure, both public and private, in each country.
The four initial automakers have an equal share in the Ionity network, and they have invited other companies to join the venture. With 350kW capacity, the super-fast Ionity chargers will radically cut the time people need to wait around while topping up their batteries. “The first pan-European HPC network plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles,” CEO Michael Hajesch said in the news release. “Ionity will deliver our common goal of providing customers with fast charging and digital payment capability to facilitate long-distance travel.”
Ionity network is considered as quite necessary to compete with the efforts from Tesla's Supercharger network, which is now 7,000 strong worldwide. It uses the company's own connector and started a major European expansion three years ago. Unlike Tesla's stations, the Ionity ones will charge all brands of electric vehicles. Ionity seeks to ensure that electric vehicles produced by Europe's established carmakers can get quickly back on the road after hooking up to an HPC station.
Given Europe's size and number of governments, Ionity represents a significant step toward increasing electric vehicle charging infrastructure as EVs become more important for cutting emissions in major urban areas. As car companies continue to make large investments in electric car development, parallel infrastructure projects will be on the rise for the foreseeable future. Pretty soon “Fill it up!” will have a shocking new meaning.