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BMW, Daimler, Ford and VW team up on European charging network

Steve Rogerson
December 7, 2016

BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen with Audi and Porsche have signed a memorandum of understanding to create the highest-powered charging network in Europe. The goal is the quick build-up of a sizable number of stations to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle (BEV) drivers.
“This high-power charging network provides motorists with another strong argument to move towards electric mobility,” said Harald Krüger, chairman of BMW. “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.”
The projected ultra-fast high-powered charging network with power levels up to 350kW will be significantly faster than the most charging system deployed today. The build-up is planned to start in 2017.
"The breakthrough of e-mobility requires two things: convincing vehicles and a comprehensive charging infrastructure,” said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Together with our partners, we are now installing the highest-powered charging infrastructure in Europe. 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."
An initial target of about 400 sites in Europe is planned. By 2020 drivers should have access to thousands of 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.
“A reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving,” said Mark Fields, president and CEO of Ford Motor. “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.”
The charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refuelling at conventional petrol stations.
“We intend to create a network that allows our customers on long-distance trips to use a coffee break for recharging,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of Audi. “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.”
The network will be based on CCS combined charging system technology. The planned charging infrastructure expands the existing technical standard for AC and DC charging of electric vehicles to the next level of capacity for DC fast charging with up to 350kW.
BEVs that are engineered to accept this full power of the charge stations can recharge brand-independently in a fraction of the time of today’s BEVs. The network is intended to serve all CCS equipped vehicles to facilitate the BEV adoption in Europe.
“There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions,” said Oliver Blume, chairman of Porsche. “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.”
The car makers intend to make investments to create the network, underscoring each company’s belief in the future of electric mobility. While the founding partners – BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen – will be equal partners in the joint venture, other automobile manufacturers will be encouraged to participate in the network to help establish convenient charging for BEV drivers. The joint venture is also open for cooperation with regional partners.
The joint venture formation is subject to execution of definitive agreements and merger control approval in various jurisdictions