Carmakers to build charging network
The venture, called Ionity, is backed by German auto giants BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen - with its Audi and Porsche brands - as well as by US carmaker Ford.
In a statement released on Friday, the new company said it would be headquartered in Munich, Germany, and planned to open its first 20 High-Power Charging (HPC) stations in Germany, Norway and Austria this year.
Read more: E-car quota debate gathers momentum
The stations would be located at 120-kilometre (75-mile) intervals along major roads and run in partnership with highway service providers Tank & Rast, Circle K and OMV. The offering would be expanded to 100 stations across Europe by 2018 and was planned to be completed with a network of 400 stations by 2020, the statement said.
"The first pan-European HPC network plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles," Ionity's chief executive Michael Hajesch said, adding that the fast-charging stations would also offer digital-payment capability.
Anxiety over whether battery-powered cars have the range to reach their destination is inhibiting some drivers from switching from conventional cars running on diesel or petrol. Ionity seeks to ensure that electric vehicles produced by Europe's established carmakers can get quickly back on the road after hooking up to an HPC station.
Read more: Bicycle, tram, e-car: Why e-mobility still has no chance in Berlin
Each charging point will have a capacity of 350 kilowatts (kW), and will use the existing European standard, the Combined Charging System, to reduce charging times compared to existing systems. Ionity said the system was not tied to brands, like for example the network of US e-car pioneer Tesla. This should make electric vehicles more appealing to drivers.
uhe/jbh (dpa, Reuters)