BMW, Daimler, Ford and VW to build high-power European EV charging network

A new joint venture between major carmakers will attempt to make it easier to get around Europe using electric cars, thanks to a network of chargers with up to 350 kW charging capacity, which could drastically reduce overall charging times compared to what’s available today. The team-up includes BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen, and plans for roll-out of the fast-charging stations call for installations to start in 2017.

Initially, the venture has identified 400 sites in Europe, with the ultimate aim of delivering as many as “thousands” of charge points by 2020 (which is, not coincidentally, around when many of the product lines of the participating car makers are expected to skew more heavily towards EVs).

The base technology upon which the network will be based is called Combined Charging System (CCS), which is a quick-charging method that uses a combo AC/DC connector referred to as the “Combo Coupler” in order to deliver a max 350 kW delivery charging rate. The standard is supported by BW, BMW, Daimler, and Ford, but also by Hyundai, GM and FCA.

The newly released Chevy Bolt uses CCS, for instance, and the standard is controlled by the Charging Interface Initiative, a group founded by Audi, BMW, Daimler, VW and more specifically to push CCS as an industry standard. Tesla joined the standards body in March of this year, and was reported in February to be working on an adapter that would help it support the standard used by CCS chargers.