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Rival automakers team up to promote the sale of electrically powered vehicles across Europe. Wynter Murdoch reports
Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Porsche and Volkswagen have joined forces to set up charging stations for electric vehicles along major highways in Europe.
The move – set out in a Memorandum of Understanding signed yesterday – marks an unprecedented step by rival auto manufacturers to facilitate mass-market adoption of electrically driven vehicles.
In a joint statement, spokesmen for the companies said the goal was to quickly build up a sizable number of charging stations to enable long-range travel for electric vehicles across Europe.
The state of the art network will be designed to provide power levels of up to 350kW and will offer significantly quicker recharging times than the most powerful systems currently in operation.
Construction of the network is scheduled to start next year. An initial target of about 400 sites is planned but, by 2020, customers will have access to thousands of high-powered charging points, according to a statement released by the companies.
The statement said: “The charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations.”
Harald Kruger, CEO of BMW, described the joint project as a major milestone that clearly demonstrated that competitors in the automotive arena were combining forces to ramp up e-mobility. “This high-power charging network provides motorists with another strong argument to move towards electric mobility,” he said.
His thoughts were echoed by Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, who said the availability of the charging stations would facilitate long-distance e-mobility for the first time – and would convince more and more customers to opt for electric vehicles. “The breakthrough of e-mobility requires two things: convincing vehicles and a comprehensive charging infrastructure.”
Ford’s CEO, Mark Fields, said a reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure was important for mass consumer adoption of electric vehicles. “This charging network will make it easier and more practical for customers across Europe to own electrified vehicles,” he said.
Similarly, Audi’s chairman, Rupert Stadler, said reliable, fast charging services were 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.”
Porsche’s CEO, Oliver Blume, added that there were two decisive aspects for the sports car brand – ultra-fast charging and the siting of charging stations in the right positions. “Together, these two factors will enable us to travel in an all-electrically powered car as in a conventional combustion engine vehicle,” he said.
The network will be based on Combined Charging System (CCS) technology, though expanded to higher standards than those that exist today. According to the statement, electrically powered vehicles engineered to accept 350kW will be able to recharge in a fraction of the time compared with today’s models. However, the network will be designed to serve all CCS equipped vehicles.
The statement added that the companies would make substantial investments to create the network, underscoring each other’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, other automobile manufacturers will be encouraged to participate in the network… The venture is also open for cooperation with regional partners,” the statement concluded.
In South Africa, BMW and Nissan recently established a number of joint charging stations for i3, i8 and Leaf derivatives, with more to follow.