BMW, Mercedes, Ford, VW, Audi launch Ionity high-power fast charging across Europe
Ionity multi-brand European charging network
A group of automakers in Europe announced on Friday they will launch "Ionity," a network of high-power fast-charging stations to build out the continent's infrastructure for electric-car travel.
When it's finished in 2020, Ionity will include 400 charging stations across multiple countries, supporting all electric cars that adhere to the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) protocol.
However, work begins immediately, and the coalition of automakers said it will install 20 charging stations in 2017.
BMW, Mercedes-Benz's parent company Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen Group brands all threw their support behind the pan-European charging network.
Perhaps most important, the Ionity project will include charging stations with power up to 350 kilowatts—the same figure Porsche touts for its 2020 Mission E all-electric sport sedan.
Porsche installed its first prototype 350-kw unit earlier this year in Berlin, with the goal of providing an 80-percent battery recharge in about 15 minutes.
The brand's goal is to populate highway rest areas and fuel stations with 350-kw charging stations to coincide with the Mission E sedan's release.
However, the addition of the 350-kw stations will likely come later in the lifetime of the Ionity project.
Such stations use liquid-cooling technology, still being tested, to prevent overheating of the charging pins at the high electrical rates required.
At present, the first 20 stations will open via partnerships with Circle K, Tank and Rast, and OMV with stations installed in 120-kilometer (80-mile) intervals.
The automaker coalition says the stations will support multiple charging stations for expanded use in the future.
It's unclear how powerful these first stations will be, though we might surmise 50 kw to 100 kw, the current rates of deployed CCS fast-charging in the U.S. and Europe today.
The announcement came as some European nations have moved to ban the sale of new cars powered by fossil fuels to curb emissions.
Norway and the Netherlands expect to end such sales in 2025 and 2030; France and the United Kingdom eye 2040.
The Ionity coalition hopes support by numerous carmakers under a single brand will make electric cars more appealing to consumers and ease buyer fears of inadequate charging infrastructure.
All automakers currently hold equal shares in the project, and the partners left the door open for other automakers to join the coalition—and to expand the network beyond the targeted 400 stations by 2020.