Ford, Daimler, BMW, VW ink agreement to build charging stations across Europe

Article by Christian A., on November 30, 2016

Four main automakers have entered a Memorandum of Understanding to develop what may be Europe’s highest-powered charging network. The four main brands hope that this will signal the start of the move for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to have a more mass-market appeal. This is because under the agreement, the brands will build a good number of charging stations to ensure that BEVs will have a longer travel range. The four companies are Ford Motor Company, Daimler AG, BMW Group, and the Volkswagen Group representing both the Audi and the Porsche.

With construction slated to being in 2017, the charging network is not only expected to offer a maximum of 350 kW in terms of power levels, but to also allow for faster charging. Though there will be 400 initial sites to be set-up across Europe, the group hopes that by 2020, BEV drivers will be able to recharge on a selection of thousands of charging stations. Another goal is to allow long-distance travel using open-network of charging stations placed on major roads and highways. At the present, this has not been seen to be feasible for many BEV drivers. The end goal is of course to make recharging as easy as refueling at standard gas stations.

The entire network will utilize the Combined Charging System standard technology with the infrastructure projected to eventually use the current AC and DC technical standards. Battery electric vehicles developed to allow for full charge at these stations will be able to recharge as well at brand-independent stations but at a faster rate. To ensure that BEV will have a strong acceptance in Europe, the group will make sure that the network will able to recharge all vehicles that are equipped with CCS.

According to BMW AG’s Chairman of the Board of Management Harald Krüger, the high-power charging network being proposed will serve as a strong argument for the shift to electric mobility. While BMW has long been introducing a number of public charging station projects for many years, this joint agreement presents an important milestone considering that different companies are collaborating to increase appreciation for electric mobility, he added.

Ford Motor Company President and CEO Mark Fields meanwhile shared that for mass consumers to adopt electric driving, there has to be a fast and reliable charging structure in place. He continued by saying that since Ford is committed to providing technologies and vehicles that improve the lives of people, this network will make it both practical and easier especially for customers in Europe.

On the other hand, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, who is Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG as well as the Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, revealed that the success of electric mobility hinges on two factors which are to offer convincing vehicles as well build a wide-range comprehensive infrastructure. The launch of the EQ, he continued, marked the start of its electric product focus and hopes that by 2025, it will be able to offer at least ten electric passenger models. He added that by having high-power charging stations, long distance travel by BEVs will be possible. This will likely convince more customers to drive BEVs.

Oliver Blume, the current Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, shared that for them, the two important factors are ultra-fast charging as well as having charging stations at the right locations. By having these two factors, he continued, consumers who drive BEVs will be able to travel long distances much like standard combustion-engine vehicles.

Finally Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG Rupert Stadler confirmed that the network will also allow for recharging while the customer takes a coffee break. In order to convince customers to purchase electric vehicles, fast and reliable charging is needed, he continued. Through this agreement, Stadler revealed, the company will help in increasing the market appeal of such vehicles and thus ensure for faster change to an emission-free drive.

The founding partners also revealed that while the act puts them as equals under the agreement, they continue to offer other automakers the chance to participate in this network.

Press Release

BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group with Audi & Porsche Plan a Joint Venture for Ultra-Fast, High-Power Charging Along Major Highways in Europe

BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group 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 in order to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers. This will be an important step towards facilitating mass-market BEV adoption.

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 build-up 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 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. The charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations.

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 the next level of capacity for DC fast charging with up to 350 kW. 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.

BMW Group
“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.”

Daimler AG
“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.”

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.”

AUDI AG
“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 cooperation we want to boost a broader market adoption of e-mobility and speed up the shift towards emission-free driving.”

Porsche AG
“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 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 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 cooperations with regional partners.

The Joint Venture formation is subject to execution of definitive agreements and merger control approval in various jurisdictions.

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