The popularity of electric vehicles is on the rise, but infrastructure constraints have largely kept a widespread EV boom from becoming reality — until now. BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford and the Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche have joined together to develop and implement a High-Power Charging (HPC) network for electric vehicles across Europe.
Under the name IONITY, the joint venture will see the creation of 400 HPC stations by 2020, which will make it easier than ever for drivers of EVs to make long-distance journeys. Based in Munich, Germany, the venture is led by CEO Michael Hajesch of BMW Group and COO Marcus Groll, formerly of Porsche.
“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,” said Hajesch.
Twenty stations will open this year on major roads in Germany, Norway and Austria at intervals of 120 km, through partnerships with Tank & Rast, Circle K and OMV. Over the next year, the network will expand to more than 100 stations, each one enabling multiple customers, driving cars from different manufacturers, to charge their vehicles simultaneously. With a capacity of up to 350 kW per charging point, the network will use the European charging standard Combined Charging System to significantly reduce charging times compared to existing systems.
The brand-agnostic approach and Europe-wide distribution are expected to help make electrified vehicles more appealing to the general public and accelerate the shift away from traditional fossil-burning options.
“The launch of IONITY represents a breakthrough in the move towards a comprehensive rapid charging infrastructure in Europe,” said Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG. “Creating a functioning charging infrastructure is necessary for ensuring electromobility is accepted and further expanded. With the rapid charging network from IONITY, we are ensuring that our customers can use electric cars on long journeys without compromising on convenience. These high-charging stations are capable of charging our Mission E to 80 percent in just 15 minutes — equivalent to a range of 400 kilometers.”
IONITY’s launch comes just weeks after the launch of the EV100, an initiative encouraging global business commitments on electric transport, and the signing of the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration by the mayors of London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan, Seattle, Auckland and Cape Town. EV fever has been running rampant in the auto industry over the past few months, with Volkswagen, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, General Motors and Volvo unveiling plans to electrify their product portfolios by 2025. With expanded infrastructure at the ready, other auto manufacturers are likely to follow suit.