European automakers build out charging network for electric cars


European automakers’ network of highway charging stations for battery-powered vehicles is transforming ahead of an expected increase in electric car sales as the automakers strive to meet new emission limits.

Ionity, the joint venture created among automakers to create the network, stated Thursday it has finished over 200 stations and expects to have 400 working by the end of the year. Each station has four to six charging columns.

The highway network is observed as a major step in convincing car customers they can switch to electrics and still take long highway trips without being concerned about running out of juice during a family vacation.

Ionity CEO Michael Hajesch gave the update on progress as the company revealed the price for electricity at its high-speed stations in 20 — soon to be 24 — nations. Munich-based Ionity is a joint effort among BMW, Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen Group, which also consists of Audi and Porsche.

Last year, battery-powered cars represented only 2% of the market in Europe but producers will have to sell more to meet stricter European Union limits on greenhouse gas emissions coming into effect from 2021. Automakers that don’t meet the limits would deal with the fines of thousands of euros per vehicle.

The network is also an answer to California-based electric automaker Tesla, which has its own charging network. The Ionity network will be available to Tesla owners.

Hajesch stated Ionity would charge 79 euro cents per kilowatt-hour for consumers that don’t have a contract with a mobility service provider for a different rate. That supersedes the previous price of 8 euros ($8.80) per charging session.

The new price to charge up sooner on the highway and be on one’s way is higher than what vehicle owners generally pay to charge overnight at home, where charging might cost around 30 euro cents per kilowatt-hour but takes much longer. Ionity’s 350-kilowatt stations mean charging could be finished in as little as 10-15 minutes for cars that can take full advantage; other models will charge a bit slower.

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