The automotive sector is witnessing the sort of era-defining innovation that just a couple of generations back was the stuff of science fiction. This period of unprecedented change, something we’ll bore our grandchildren about through misty eyes in years to come, requires a united front and some razor-sharp minds, the likes of which we’ve seen in numbers in the last couple of weeks.
The major headline for Porsche has concerned IONITY, a joint venture between parent company Volkswagen and other key European manufacturers BMW, Daimler AG, and Ford. The idea is to design and build a high-power charging network to facilitate the gradual switch to all-electric cars across their home continent. The initial roll out allows for approximately 400 charging stations by 2020, creating a highly sophisticated and easily accessible new network that will make long-distance journeys far easier for the increasing number of all-electric drivers.
IONITY is based in Munich under the leadership of CEO Michael Hajesch whose team should number 50 by the start of next year. “The first pan-European HPC network plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles,” Hajesch explained. “IONITY will deliver our common goal of providing customers with fast charging and digital payment capability, to facilitate long-distance travel.”
A total of 20 stations will be opened to the public this year, located on major roads in Germany, Norway and Austria at intervals of 75 miles. Throughout 2018 the network will expand to more than 100 stations, each one enabling multiple customers, driving different cars, to charge their vehicles simultaneously. And with a capacity of up to 350 kW per charging point, the network will significantly reduce charging times compared to existing systems.
All the founding partners have equal shares in the network, which works for all-comers and is created without brand bias to any one manufacturer. In fact, IONITY is also working with existing charging infrastructure, building relationships with other companies and local government, to speed up and democratise the whole processes. All with the ultimate goal of making an EV purchase seem not just logical, but genuinely attractive.
With Porsche’s Mission E all-electric vehicle due before the end of the decade, the timing of this initiative could not be better, as Porsche Chair Oliver Blume explains:
“The launch of IONITY represents a breakthrough in the move towards a comprehensive rapid charging infrastructure in Europe. Creating a functioning charging infrastructure is necessary for ensuring electromobility is accepted and further expanded. With the rapid charging network from IONITY, we are ensuring that our customers can use electric cars on long journeys without compromising on convenience. These high-charging stations are capable of charging our Mission E to 80 per cent in just 15 minutes – equivalent to a range of 400 kilometres (250 miles). The Mission E is Porsche’s first purely electric sports car. It will arrive on the market in 2019, bringing e-mobility into everyday use.”
As daunting as this unknown automotive future can seem, things are looking all right for those grandkids of ours.