The BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and the Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche have formed a joint venture called Ionity to develop a high-power-charging (HPC) network for electric vehicles in Europe.
Launching approximately 400 HPC stations by 2020, Ionity will make long-distance journeys easier and marks an important step for electric vehicles. Based in Munich, Germany, the joint venture is led by CEO Michael Hajesch and chief operating officer Marcus Groll, with a growing team, set to number 50 by the start of 2018.
“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.
20 charging stations to be set up this year
A total of 20 stations will be opened to the public this year, located on major roads in Germany, Norway and Austria, at intervals of 120km, through partnerships with ‘Tank & Rast’, ‘Circle K’ and ‘OMV’. Through 2018, the network will expand to more than 100 stations, each one enabling multiple customers, driving different manufacturer cars, 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 is expected to help make electrified vehicles more appealing.
Choosing the best locations takes into account potential integration with existing charging technologies and Ionity is negotiating with existing infrastructure initiatives, including those supported by the participating companies as well as political institutions. The investment underlines the commitment that the participating manufacturers are making in electric vehicles and relies on international co-operation across the industry.
The founding partners, BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and the Volkswagen Group, have equal shares in the joint venture, while other automotive manufacturers are invited to help expand the network.
Can something similar be done in India?
The move by the four automakers to set up an EV charging network in Europe is laudatory and essentially help alleviate EV motorists' concern about travel range and in facilitate seamless long-distance motoring.
Can Indian automakers, in association with the government, attempt a similar EV charging network strategy? At present,one of the major hurdles to easier EV adoption in India is, the abject lack of EV charging infrastructure. While Mahindra Electric, which has a first-mover advantage in the EV industry with operations since five years, has an estimated 71-odd EV charging stations, Tata Power has recently begun setting up EV charging infrastructure.
Also read: Interview with Anil Sardana, CEO and MD, Tata Power