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Major car companies partner for Europe-wide EV charging network

BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen and Audi are working together to keep EVs juiced.

A group of the biggest names in the car industry have announced a joint partnership to develop a Europe-wide high-power charging (HPC) network for electric vehicles. The venture, named IONITY, draws on expertise from BMW, Daimler, Ford, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, and aims to launch 400 HPC stations by 2020.

The first 20 stations will open this year, located in Germany, Norway and Austria at intervals of 120 kilometers, with around 100 more expected further afield in 2018. Each HPC point will support a variety of electric cars, and let multiple customers charge up at the same time. And at 350kW capacity per point, charging times will be significantly reduced, juicing up a Porsche Mission E (on the market in 2019) to 80 percent in just 15 minutes -- that's a range of 400 kilometers in the same time it takes to grab a coffee.

One of the biggest challenges faced by electric vehicle manufacturers is consumer concerns about range and the availability of charging facilities, so IONITY represents a big step in making electric vehicle ownership more appealing. As IONITY's chief executive officer Michael Hajesch says, the network "will deliver our common goal of providing customers with fast charging and digital payment capability, to facilitate long-distance travel. IONITY plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles."