German Carmakers Want Europe-wide Car Charging Network by 2020
There are plenty of reasons why the electric car market has struggled to find a strong foothold among consumers. For one, they’re an expensive proposition in both upfront cost and upkeep. But beyond that, electric cars have limited range, and there aren’t nearly enough charging stations to support that limited range.
Hoping to solve the latter issue, German carmakers are banding together and have set a lofty goal of building a continent-wide network of electric car charging stations by 2020.
According to a report on The Next Web, the IONITY initiative is a joint venture between BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler, and U.S. car manufacturer Ford. The group plans to work together to roll out what they’re calling the High Powered Charging (HPC) stations over the course of the next few years. It’ll start with 20 HPC stations opening throughout Germany by the end of this year. All of them will be spaced out by about 120 kilometers (75 miles), which would be plenty for cars traveling across the country—the 2017 BMW i3 with Range Extender, for example, in 194 miles.
By the end of next year, IONITY will aim to have 100 charging stations opened. And by 2020 they hope to have 400 HPCs open. Each charging station will have a capacity of 350 kilowatts, they’ll use the European standard Combined Charging System, and they won’t be tied to a specific brand. That departs from the Tesla Supercharger station model, which only allows Tesla cars to charge at their stations. And, according to the consoritum’s CEO Michael Hajesch, they’ll also allow users to “pay at the pump” by accepting digital payments.
What’s interesting about the whole electric vehicle space, in all honesty, is watching how different manufacturers are trying to tackle the battery issue. The IONITY approach is one that makes sense because giving the electric car user more opportunities to charge across a set range means they’ll be able to travel further. But other companies have much different approaches. Samsung, for one, is working on a battery that can last for over 400 miles on a single charge. Then there’s Israeli startup StoreDot which has an EV battery that can reach a full charge in just five minutes.
My favorite take on the space is definitely a mix between projects from BMW and Qualcomm. The former, on top of their work with the IONITY consortium, is developing a wireless charging pad for electric vehicles. The latter has taken that idea and applied it to the physical road, which would mean dedicated electric vehicle lanes that actually keep your car charged while driving. The former seems more feasible in the short term, but Qualcomm’s idea could present a world of possibilities for the electric car market.
Either way, it’s great to see car companies making strides in addressing one of the major complaints around electric cars.