BMW, Daimler’s Mercedes, Ford, and Volkswagen’s Audi and Porsche announced today that they are creating a joint-venture with the goal of a “quick build-up of a sizable number of stations in order to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers.”

The new venture is similar to the Ultra E project announced earlier this year to deploy 25 new charging station for electric vehicles along the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), but it’s apparently a separate and much more ambitious project to deploy 400 stations across Europe.

The new network will be based on Combined Charging System (CCS) standard technology and each station will feature not only both level 2 AC chargers and level 3 DC chargers, but also the new ” ultra-fast high-powered chargers” and, like the ones of the Ultra E project, they will be able to deliver up to 350 kW – more than twice the capacity of the current best charger, Tesla’s Supercharger at 145 kW.

400 sites are apparently just the “initial target” of the joint-venture and deployment will start in 2017.

The automakers confirmed that every vehicle using the CCS standard will be able to use the new network – meaning that they will create an independent network. It reflects recent comments made by Porsche executives regarding the deployment of their new 800 volts charging system being compatible with other vehicles, like Tesla’s.

Tesla currently has just over 260 Supercharger stations in Europe, but it plans to almost double that number before the Model 3 arrives in Europe in 2018. Some good healthy competition in charging station deployment is likely to accelerate adoption.

Each Automaker has released a statement about the announcement of the joint-venture:

BMW Group “This high-power charging network provides motorists with another strong argument to move towards electric mobility,” says Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “The BMW Group has initiated numerous public charging infrastructure projects over the last years. The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp-up e-mobility.”

Daimler AG “The breakthrough of e-mobility requires two things: convincing vehicles and a comprehensive charging infrastructure. With our new brand EQ, we are launching our electric product offensive: by 2025, our portfolio will include more than ten fully electric passenger cars. Together with our partners, we are now installing the highest-powered charging infrastructure in Europe,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The availability of high-power stations allows long-distance e-mobility for the first time and will convince more and more customers to opt for an electric vehicle.”

Ford Motor Company “A reliable, ultra-fast charging infrastructure is important for mass consumer adoption and has the potential to transform the possibilities for electric driving,” says Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Ford is committed to developing vehicles and technologies that make people’s lives better, and this charging network will make it easier and more practical for customers across Europe to own electrified vehicles.”

AUDI AG “We intend to create a network that allows our customers on long-distance trips to use a coffee break for recharging,” says Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “Reliable fast charging services are a key factor for drivers to choose an electric vehicle. With this cooperation we want to boost a broader market adoption of e-mobility and speed up the shift towards emission-free driving.”

Porsche AG “There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions”, says Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG. “Together, these two factors enable us to travel in an all-electrically powered car as in a conventional combustion engine vehicle. As automobile manufacturer, we actively shape our future, not only by developing all-electrically powered vehicles but by building up the necessary infrastructure as well.”

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