The biggest carmakers just teamed up to create a HUGE European fast-charging network for EVs
As electric vehicles get more popular – and governments seek to ban conventional cars – there’s been one huge question mark hanging over EVs: infrastructure. Over the three years, we’ve seen bold commitments from car brands and some seriously interesting concept cars – but a lack of charging infrastructure has always been a niggling issue. Tesla has its Supercharger network, but what needs to happen if we want a robust infrastructure for a much larger numbers of EVs?
It looks like we finally have an answer. Today Ford announced it’ll be teaming up with BMW Group, Daimler AG, and the Volkswagen group to create a High-Power-Charging unit or HPC across Europe. The new project will be called IONITY – a play on ions and Unity – and will see around 400 fast-charging stations set up in Europe by 2020.
20 stations should be operational this year, and they’re being built on intervals of 120 km along major roads in Germany, Norway and Austria – there’s nothing about the UK just yet. That number should increase to more than 100 by 2018, and interestingly it’s being done through a range of third-party partnerships.
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Right now, the system is targeted at facilitating long-distance pan-European travel – and that means it’s removing the range limitations of EVs. There are already a good amount of chargers available in populated areas, but Ionity will bring them to more critical routes. Of course, it’s possible that there will be other programs that also aim to bring 350kW charging to more urban areas, too.
While the scope of the IONITY network is impressive, it’s the speed at which it’ll be able to charge that’s most significant. When Porsche said it’d use 350kW charging to top up its Mission E to 80% battery life in 15 minutes, we were very sceptical. But now that chargers of that speed are rolling out across Europe, it’s very real, very viable – and very exciting. And if your car doesn’t support 350kW charging, Ionity is backwards-compatible, too.
Bad news for Tesla
Earlier this week, I wrote that although Tesla may eventually be out-developed and outsold by the traditional car manufacturers, its Supercharger network meant it was one important step ahead of other car manufacturers. I’ve always maintained it’d take an unprecedented, joint effort from other companies to offer an EV experience anywhere near Tesla’s – but unfortunately for Elon Musk, that’s exactly what Ionity is.