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[FRANKFURT] A group of mainly German car makers said on Friday it had formed a joint venture to build out a pan-European network of 400 fast charging stations for electric vehicles by the year 2020.
The venture, called IONITY, is backed by BMW AG, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen with its Audi and Porsche brands, the companies said in a statement.
Anxiety over whether battery-powered cars have the range to reach their destination is inhibiting some drivers from switching from traditional petrol- or diesel-powered models.
But with US all-electric challenger Tesla stealing a lead, established brands are teaming up to ensure that electric vehicles (EVs) can get quickly back on the road after hooking up to a High-Power Charging (HPC) station.
"The first pan-European HPC network plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles," IONITY's CEO Michael Hajesch said. He added that the fast-charging stations would also offer digital-payment capability.
IONITY, to be headquartered in Munich, will open its first 20 charging stations to the public this year in Germany, Norway and Austria. These would be 120 km apart, and run in partnership with Tank & Rast, Circle K and OMV.
The network will be expanded to 100 stations in 2018, each one enabling several drivers of different car brands to charge their vehicles at the same time.
Each charging point will have a capacity of 350 kW, and will use the an existing European standard, the Combined Charging System, to reduce charging times compared to existing systems. The system is not tied to brands, which should make EVs more appealing to drivers, IONITY said.