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.