European EV 'supercharging' highway set to open
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A “supercharging” highway for electric cars across Europe will open for business this year after Germany’s BMW, Daimler and VW joined up with Ford.
The carmakers have formed a venture called Ionity, which aims to build 400 charging stations over the next three years.
The first 20 stations will open this year in Austria, Germany and Norway at 120km intervals along major roads, with plans for 100 stations operating across other countries by 2018.
A comprehensive network of charging stations would make electric cars more viable, eliminating the need to plan circuitous routes to use existing facilities.
According to the UK’s Department for Transport data, the average length of a car journey in that nation is about 11km, a fraction of the range of most electric cars.
However, “range anxiety” — the worry that an electric car will not have sufficient power to complete a journey and could leave motorists stranded away from charging facilities — is a factor holding back their wider adoption. Introduction of comprehensive charging networks will make electric vehicles more practical for longer trips.
A plug at a new charging station for electric vehicles in Hamburg, Germany. Photo / AP
Each Ionity charger will have a 350kW capacity, which will cut the amount of time it takes to top up an electric vehicle compared with conventional systems.
It will also be “brand agnostic”, meaning that it will be capable of charging all makes of current and future electric vehicles.
Michael Hajesch, Ionity CEO, said the system would “play an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles”.
He added: “Ionity will deliver our common goal of providing customers with fast charging and digital payment capability, to facilitate long-distance travel.”
Other companies will be invited to join Ionity to expand its coverage.