Several automakers have agreed to form a joint venture in Europe to build roughly 400 “ultra-fast” charging sites along highways on the continent to make long distance travel in electric cars more feasible. BMW, Volkswagen Group, Ford, and Daimler are heading up the venture, along with Audi and Porsche—both divisions of VW Group.
In a press release today, the automakers said the charging stations would deliver 350 kW over a DC charging network, which is set to “significantly reduce charging time compared to available systems.” For comparison, Tesla’s supercharging stations deliver 120 kW and can fill a Tesla up to 170 miles of range in 30 minutes.
The European network will use the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard that is compatible with current and future electric vehicles from all the joint venture companies as well as Fiat-Chrysler and Hyundai.
Construction on these sites is planned to start in 2017 and should be completed by 2020, the companies said. The group added that “the charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations.”
Daimler Chairman of the Board of Management Dr. Dieter Zetsche said that by 2025, the company will be producing “more than 10 fully electric passenger cars.” Other automakers are expected to expand their electric vehicle output over the next five to 10 years as well. Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen all announced electric cars that will have ranges between 250 and 310 miles this year, and BMW’s i6 electric crossover, due in 2020, will also have a 300 mile range. The automakers have generally claimed that their upcoming cars will be able to charge quickly, and this infrastructure buildout will make that claim a real possibility.
Other auto companies and regional partners will be encouraged to join the network buildout, and the joint venture is still subject to approval in “various jurisdictions.”
In the US, the Department of Energy reports 1,881 DC fast-charging stations and 4,109 charging outlets for electric cars. But in September, ChargePoint, BMW, and Volkswagen announced that they would be building 95 fast-charging DC networks along two high-traffic corridors—one from San Diego, California, to Portland, Oregon, and another from Boston, Massachusetts, to Washington, DC.
In early November, the Obama administration and the Department of Transportation (DOT) designated 48 corridors across the US for which the DOT will actively put up signage and support the build out electric vehicle charging stations, backed by $4.5 billion in loan guarantees to companies that agree to build out those stations. Of course with the administrative transition, it’s unclear whether those corridors will be a priority over the next four years.
Listing image by Porsche