As they gear up to launch a new generation of volume electric cars, the major automakers are following Tesla’s [NSDQ:TSLA] lead of rolling out charging infrastructure to help eliminate range anxiety for owners.
But instead of going it alone with individual standards, as Tesla has done with its Supercharger stations, most of the major automakers are joining forces to roll out charging stations using the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard. The stations will be located along major highways and other busy areas.
We’ve already seen the likes of BMW, Nissan and the Volkswagen Group starting to install CCS charging stations in the United States. And on Tuesday, BMW, the VW Group, Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler announced a joint venture to roll out CCS stations in Europe starting in 2017. In phase one of the project approximately 400 stations will be installed. By 2020 the automakers hope to have thousands in place.
The stations will be open to all vehicles using the CCS standard and will offer power levels of up to 350 kilowatts, meaning we could see as much as 200 miles of range added in just 15 minutes. Only some electric buses and trucks are capable of 350-kw charging at present but the first passenger cars are coming soon. The automakers involved in the joint venture expect the first cars capable of 350-kw charging to start arriving in 2018.
Other automakers will be encouraged to participate in the project to help establish convenient charging solutions for electric car owners. The project is also open to regional partners. The goal is to make charging as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations.