Automakers form joint venture to deploy ultra-fast EV charging across Europe


A consortium of some of Europe’s leading automakers has agreed to deploy a high-powered ultra-fast charging network for battery electric vehicles (BEV) that will cover the major highways and long-distance travel routes across the continent.

The BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and the Volkswagen Group, including Audi and Porsche, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to create the highest-powered EV charging network in Europe. The goal is the quick build-up of a sizable number of stations to enable long-range travel for EV drivers, which will be an important step toward facilitating mass-market electric adoption. The projected ultra-fast high-powered charging network will be much faster than the most powerful charging system deployed today. The build-up is planned to start in 2017, with an initial target of 400 sites in Europe. By 2020 customers should have access to thousands of high-powered charging points.

The goal is to enable long-distance travel through open-network charging stations along highways and major thoroughfares, which has not been feasible for most BEV drivers to date. The charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations. The network will be based on combined charging system (CCS) standard technology. The planned charging infrastructure expands the existing technical standard for AC and DC charging to the next level of capacity for DC fast-charging, with up to 350kW available. Vehicles that are engineered to accept this full charging power can recharge brand-independently in a fraction of the time of today’s BEVs.

The automakers intend to make substantial investments to create the network, underscoring each company’s belief in the future of electric mobility. While the founding partners will have equal status in the joint venture, other automobile manufacturers will be encouraged to participate in the network to help establish convenient charging systems for BEV customers, with the group also open for cooperation with regional partners.

“A reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president and CEO. “We are committed to developing vehicles and technologies that make people’s lives better, and this charging network will make it easier and more practical for customers across Europe to own electrified vehicles.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).