Ford Motor, Volkswagen Group, BMW Group and Daimler today said they plan to set up charging stations for electric vehicles along major highways in Europe. The move will be an important step toward facilitating the mass-market adoption of EVs, the companies said in a joint statement.
The companies have signed an initial agreement to create the charging network in what they said is an "unprecedented collaboration." The goal is to quickly build up a sizable number of stations in order to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers.
The projected ultra-fast high-powered charging network with power levels up to 350 kW will be significantly faster than the most powerful charging system deployed today, the statement said.
The buildup is planned to start in 2017. An initial target of about 400 sites in Europe is planned. By 2020 the customers should have access to thousands of high-powered charging points, the statement said. "The charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations," the automakers said.
"The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp up e-mobility," BMW Group CEO Harald Kruger said in the statement.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said: "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."
Ford Motor CEO Mark Fields said a reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure "is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving."
Volkswagen Group's Audi and Porsche brands will be part of the joint venture. "There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions," Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said in the statement.
The network will be based on Combined Charging System (CCS) standard technology. The planned charging infrastructure expands the existing technical standard for AC and DC charging of electric vehicles to a higher level of DC fast-charging capacity with up to 350 kilowatts. EVs engineered to accept 350 kW of power will be able to recharge in a fraction of the time as today's EVs.
BMW, Daimler, Ford and VW Group will be equal partners in the joint venture and they will encourage other automakers, along with regional partners, to participate.