In one of the largest collaborative efforts of recent times, four major automakers have signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate the development of a widespread electric vehicle fast charging network for Europe.
The agreement has been established between the BMW Group, Daimler (parent company of Mercedes-Benz and smart), Ford, and the Volkswagen Group including Porsche and Audi, with initial plans to build up to 400 fast-charging sites across Europe.
The new network will feature a charge rate of up to 350kW, significantly faster than current chargers, and will utilise the European standard Combined Charging System (CCS) connector to ensure compatibility with current and upcoming electric vehicles.
“This high-power charging network provides motorists with another strong argument to move towards electric mobility,” said Harald Kruger, BMW’s Chairman of the Board of Management. The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp-up e-mobility.”
Construction of the fast charge network is set to begin in 2017, with thousands of charge points to be established by 2020 opening up the possibility of long-distance EV travel across Europe, with promised charge times described as close to the experience of refuelling a traditional internal combustion vehicle.
“We intend to create a network that allows our customers on long-distance trips to use a coffee break for recharging,” said Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi, Rupert Stadler. “Reliable fast charging services are a key factor for drivers to choose an electric vehicle. With this cooperation we want to boost a broader market adoption of e-mobility and speed up the shift towards emission-free driving.”
While final details of the fast-charging collaboration are still to be revealed the consortium is open to adding additional automakers to the agreement as well as adding energy providers to the network, pending the approval of regional regulatory bodies.
The announcement of a multi-manufacturer European charge network also opens up the possibility of establishing similar arrangements in other markets, including Australia, pending the success of the program.