Ionity, the new ‘ultra-fast’ joint electric car charging network by BMW, Mercedes, Ford and Volkswagen, is starting to take shape in Europe.
Now their first charging station is going online and they are making it free for a limited time.
The charging station is located at a Brohltal-Ost service station in Niederzissen, Germany.
For the launch, they announced that it will be free until the end of next month:
“IONITY has announced that it is commencing operations at its Brohltal-Ost site today. The IONITY station is based on the A61 motorway in the German state of Rhineland Palatinate and will be operated in conjunction with the German service station group Tank & Rast GmbH. Drivers of an EV fitted with a CCS charging plug are welcome to use the station free of charge until May 31, 2018.”
It’s the first of 400 planned stations with a capacity of up to 350 kW across Europe by 2020. They started work on the first 20 stations last year and they plan to hit a total of 100 stations this year.
There’s currently no electric car capable of charging at that rate, but EV owners can still use the stations up to their capacity – generally ~50 kW.
This new network is believed by many to be the most important electric vehicle charging infrastructure effort since Tesla’s Supercharger network.
They unveiled the map of planned stations in February and it looks good. They have about 6 charge points per station, which is not bad – though I hope they are leaving the door open to expand on that in the near future.
Tesla is finally seeing some decent charging network competition – though they are already almost at 400 stations in Europe and they plan to double that by the time Ionity gets to 400 (Ionity in 2020 on the left vs Tesla Supercharger Europe now on the right):
However, Ionity currently has the advantage for the charge rate. The stations will enable between 150 and 350 kW while Tesla’s Supercharger stations are currently rated for 145 kW and their vehicles can charge at up to 120 kW.
I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if Tesla ends up increasing the charge rate over the next few years, especially since Elon Musk has been talking about the ‘Supercharger V3’ for a while now and the automaker is supposed to start deploying ‘Megachargers’ for Tesla Semi.
But for now, Ionity is taking the lead when it comes to charge rate and that should create some good competition to lift up the entire industry.