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BMW, Daimler, Ford and VW Group to build super-fast charging network

Industry-backed, Europe-wide, fast-charging infrastructure confirmed for BEVs

Published: 29 Nov 2016

Big, big news today: four car industry giants, BMW, Daimler, Ford and the Volkswagen Group, have confirmed that they are joining forces to deliver a fast-charging network for electric vehicles across Europe.

The quartet is forming a joint venture to build a network said to total around 1,000 charging points, sited on major routes all across Europe. Today’s statement talks of power levels ‘up to 350 kW’, which is significantly faster than anything currently available. Around 400 ultra-fast charging sites are planned initially, and the network will be based on the Combined Charging System (CCS), which suggests that this solution will become the industry standard going forward.

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"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 (battery electric vehicles) to date," the jointly issued statement says. "The charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refuelling at conventional gas stations."

Although joint ventures are commonplace in the car industry, this sort of collaboration is unprecedented, and drew predictably effusive comments from the various parties involved. BMW Group’s Chairman, Harald Krüger said: "The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp up e-mobility."

Daimler’s CEO, Dr Dieter Zetsche, added: "The availability of high-power stations allows long distance e-mobility for the first time and will convince more and more customers to opt for an electric vehicle."

"A reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving," FoMoCo’s President and CEO Mark Fields observed.

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The statement concludes by saying that the founding partners are happy to encourage others to ‘participate in the network to help establish convenient charging solutions’, and is open for co-operation with regional partners.

This is surely the long-awaited tipping point for electric cars. Jaguar unveiled its I-Pace battery electric vehicle a fortnight ago in Los Angeles, firing the starting gun on a new wave of pure EVs from some of the industry’s biggest players. The I-Pace can travel 300-miles on a single charge, more proof that the range anxiety that has hampered take-up on EVs so far is finally subsiding. Today’s announcement confirms that the second big hurdle – the creation and existence of a reliable, continent wide fast-charging infrastructure – is also being dealt with.

Get ready to hit that big reset button.

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