BMW, Ford, Mercedes, VW to build charging network for electric cars.
BMW, Ford Mercedes and VW have concluded arrangement to design and build a network of ultra-fast charging stations along Europe’s major highways.
BMW, Daimler (parent of Mercedes-Benz and Smart), and VW Group’s Audi and Porsche brands joined with U.S. maker Ford to announce the joint venture last week.
The network will include 400 sites by 2020 where chargers reportedly will operate faster than today’s Tesla Supercharger stations.
Silicon Valley electric-car maker Tesla Motors laid out the template with its Supercharger network, which now numbers 327 sites in the United States and more than 400 sites outside the country.
The network will be based on the Combined Charging System (CCS) protocol currently used in a lower-power version by all four makers.
The global group that sets software and physicals standards for the CCS specification has been working on upgrades from the current 50-kw maximum spec for many months.
More than a year ago, Audi pledged that a 150-kw DC fast-charging network would be available by the time its 2019 Audi e-tron all-electric crossover utility vehicle launched sometime in 2018.
Porsche followed with a mention of 350-kw fast charging as it unveiled the concept version of its Mission E all-electric sport sedan, expected to launch in 2019.
“This will be an important step towards facilitating mass-market battery-electric vehicle adoption,” said the partners in their joint statement.
The 400 planned sites will incorporate “thousands of high-powered charging points” by 2020, they said.
Fast charging at rates as high as 350 kw could cut the time to recharge an electric-car battery to 80 percent of its capacity from the current 30 minutes or more to as little as 15 minutes.
That would be, in the words of the joint venture, “as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations.”
The four founding auto companies will be equal partners, but other makers will be encouraged to participate in what the group calls a “brand-independent network.”
Statements by each of the four partners said encouraging things about the future of all-electric vehicles.