Car giants have banded together to charge up Europe's major motorways in a joint venture aiming to accelerate the mass-market take-up of electric vehicles.
BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group with its brands Audi & Porsche, have announced a joint venture to deploy a high-powered charge network for battery electric vehicles (BEVs). It will cover long-distance travel routes across Europe.
The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of quickly building up a sizeable number of charging stations to pave the way for easy long-range travel for BEV drivers. The initial target is to have 400 European sites established so by 2020 drivers will have access to thousands of charging points.
The projected charging network with power levels up to 350 kW will be "significantly faster" than the most powerful system currently deployed, with the build-up planned to start next year.
The companies are envisaging the charging experience to one day become as convenient as simply refuelling at a traditional petrol station.
"The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp up e-mobility," said Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG.
"A reliable ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving," said Mark Fields, president and chief executive of Ford.
The network will be based on the so-called combined charging system (CCS) technology, enhancing existing AC and DC charging standards.
The founding companies will be equal partners in the venture, but are encouraging other car manufacturers to participate in the network too.
The announcement comes with a flurry of activity in the electric car market of late. Just last week Jaguar Land Rover announced it was building its very first electric car in the UK, and will likely create thousands of jobs in the process. And Toyota has created a new in-house company responsible for developing electric vehicles.