Four of Europe’s biggest carmakers are to join forces to build an international network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations starting in 2017.
The founding companies, BMW Group, Daimler, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group, will be equal partners in the joint venture, but other carmakers will be encouraged to join.
The network will focus on the European motorway network to allow long-range travel for EV drivers, with an initial aim of 400 sites on major roads and motorways before building up to ‘thousands’.
German motorway service station operator Tank & Rast is reportedly involved in talks with the manufacturers about installing EV charging points across its network, but no details have been officially confirmed.
Sites will be fitted with ultra-fast chargers which can return a battery to 80% charge in just 20 minutes. This will help avoid bottlenecks forming as increasing numbers of EV drivers need to plug in during journeys.
The chargers offer up to 350kW or more than twice the capacity of the most powerful fast-chargers currently available. There are no electric cars currently capable of charging at that rate, but OEMs are rolling out a number of new models in the next five years.
Mark Fields, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company, said: ‘A reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving. This charging network will make it easier and more practical for customers across Europe to own electric vehicles.’
Although sales of EVs are growing, they still account for a very small proportion of annual car sales.
Among the key early adopters will be companies and local authorities, but they have expressed concerns about the limited range of EVs and a lack of recharging points.
In response, manufacturers are planning EVs with much longer ranges in the next few years, while national governments and local authorities have committed to building up EV recharging infrastructure.
During November 2016, European governments agreed to increase the share of electric vehicles (EVs) on their fleets as part of a global deal that could lead to orders for up to 300,000 EVs by 2020.
The Government Fleet Declaration was signed by France, Norway, Sweden and the UK as well as Canada, China, Japan and the US.
As part of the new agreement, governments will also increase efforts to encourage local authorities and companies to introduce low-emission vehicles to their fleets.
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