BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen team up on high-power charging network

BMW Group, Daimler, Ford Motor Company, and the Volkswagen Group (with subsidiaries Audi and Porsche) will join up to create a high-power charging network for electric vehicles called “Ionity,” which will build and operate around 400 charging stations across Europe by 2020.

The collaborative venture formed by the automakers is intended to make it easier for Europeans to manage long road trips using electric cars, and to put in place a key infrastructure component needed to make electric vehicles a viable option for general consumer use.

The Ionity brand will operate around 20 stations by the end of this year, and then aims to have 50 available in 2018. Each charging point will have a capacity of as much as 350 kW, and the intent is for the charging to be brand-agnostic using the Combined Charging System (or CCS) standard. The CCS standard is supported by VW, GM, BMW, Daimler, Ford FCA, Tesla and Hyundai, and current vehicles that support it, including the Bolt EV, max out at 50 kW quick charging.

Ionity will pick spots for its chargers based on negotiations with political institutions and private companies and aims to put them in, in concert with existing infrastructure initiatives which are ongoing.

This is a big moment for the acceleration of electric vehicle adoption – an automaker joint venture like this one with its considerable brand power will go a long way toward making sure the charging network can meet future demand as more models become available and demand increases among consumers.