BMW, Daimler, Ford, VW Joint Venture to Add 400 Charging Stations in Europe by 2020

Called Ionity, the new company will install 20 this year in Germany, Norway, and Austria.

Murray Slovick, Contributing Editor

A group of four automakers has teamed up to build a network of fast chargers across Europe as countries promote electric vehicles (EVs) as a way to meet emissions goals. Called Ionity and based in Munich, the joint venture was formed by BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, and the Volkswagen Group, with the goal of installing a network of 400 high-power chargers by 2020.

Twenty chargers in the Ionity network are being installed this year in Germany, Austria, and Norway at 75-mile intervals along major roads, with plans for 100 stations operating across other countries by 2018. A comprehensive network of charging stations would eliminate “range anxiety”—the worry that an electric car will not have sufficient power to complete a journey—and make EVs more viable, eliminating the need to plan inefficient routing simply to use existing charging facilities.

The system would “play an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles,” said Michael Hajesch, Ionity’s chief executive. “Ionity will deliver our common goal of providing customers with fast charging and digital payment capability to facilitate long-distance travel.”


Ionity charger image

Each Ionity charger will have a charging capacity of up to 350 kW, enabling it to reduce charging time significantly when compared to existing systems. (Source: Ford Media)

The Ionity team will comprise around 50 employees at the beginning of 2018 and will be gradually expanded. Ionity has invited other companies to join the venture in which the four founding automakers have an equal share.

Each Ionity charger will have a 350KW capacity using the European charging standard Combined Charging System. The Ionity chargers would also be “brand agnostic,” meaning they will be capable of charging all makes of current and future EVs.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are currently 16,487 electric stations and 45,121 charging outlets. Three types of DC fast charging systems are used here, depending on the type of charge port on the vehicle: a SAE J1772 combo, CHAdeMO, or Tesla. The SAE J1772 combo is used by Chevrolet and BMW and is unique because a driver can use the same charge port when charging with Level 1, 2, or DC Fast equipment. The only difference is that the DC Fast Charge connector has two bottom pins.

The CHAdeMO is the most common of the three connector types and is used by Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota. Tesla vehicles have a unique charge port and connector that works for all of their charging options, including their fast charging option (called a supercharger). Globally, Tesla currently has 1,032 Supercharger Stations with 7,320 Superchargers.

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