When it comes to the automotive industry, there is no real rivalry, or rather a real competition. Companies around the world are somehow connected with each other, either in the form of technical or a strategic alliance. Which is a good thing, because more than the money, these connections are usually for making their products and services better. It’s more of wanting a “piece of the pie”.
Now for the first time ever, BMW Group, Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen Group with Audi & Porsche have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create an ultra-fast, high-power charging network in Europe. The JV will deploy a high-powered DC charging network for battery electric vehicles (BEV) covering long-distance travel routes in Europe.
The projected ultra-fast high-powered charging network with power levels of up to 350 kW is claimed to be significantly faster than the most powerful charging system deployed today. The build-up is planned to start in 2017. An initial target of about 400 sites in Europe is planned. By 2020 the customers will have access to thousands of such high-powered charging points. 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 drivers to date. This is said to be an important step towards facilitating mass-market BEV adoption. The charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations.
The network will be based on the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard technology. BEVs that are engineered to accept this full power of the charge stations will be able to recharge brand-independently in a fraction of the time as well. The network is intended to serve all CCS equipped vehicles to facilitate the BEV adoption in Europe.
The automobile manufacturers intend to make substantial investments to create the network, underscoring each company’s belief in the future of electric mobility. While the founding partners – BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group – will be equal partners in the Joint Venture, other automobile manufacturers will be encouraged to participate in the network to help establish convenient charging solutions for BEV customers. The Joint Venture is also open for co-operations with regional partners.
“This high-power charging network provides motorists with another strong argument to move towards electric mobility,” says Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “The BMW Group has initiated numerous public charging infrastructure projects over the last years. The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp-up e-mobility,” he added.
“The breakthrough of e-mobility requires two things: convincing vehicles and a comprehensive charging infrastructure. With our new brand EQ, we are launching our electric product offensive: by 2025, our portfolio will include more than ten fully electric passenger cars. Together with our partners, we are now installing the highest-powered charging infrastructure in Europe,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “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,” he added.
Ford Motor Company
“A reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving,” says Mark Fields, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Ford is committed to developing vehicles and technologies that make people’s lives better, and this charging network will make it easier and more practical for customers across Europe to own electrified vehicles,” he added.
“We intend to create a network that allows our customers on long-distance trips to use a coffee break for recharging,” says Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “Reliable fast charging services are a key factor for drivers to choose an electric vehicle. With this co-operation we want to boost a broader market adoption of e-mobility and speed up the shift towards emission-free driving,” he added.
“There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions,” says Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG. “Together, these two factors enable us to travel in an all-electrically powered car as in a conventional combustion engine vehicle. As an automobile manufacturer, we actively shape our future, not only by developing all-electrically powered vehicles but by building up the necessary infrastructure as well,” he added.