The automakers behind the IONITY venture – which is planning to create a “super” network of rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargers across Europe – have announced an investment package aimed at quadrupling the project’s charging stock by 2025.
The €700m package, announced today (24 November), includes funding from all of the participating carmakers – namely BMW Group, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai (through Kia) and Volkswagen Group (through Audi and Porsche).
There is also funding from BlackRock’s Global Renewable Power platform, which this month became the first non-OEM firm to join the venture. The platform specialises in direct investments in projects that decarbonise the power and transport sectors, including wind, solar and EV infrastructure projects. Its third fund reached a final close this April with $4.8bn.
IONITY began installing its first chargers in late 2017 and now hosts around 1,500 charging points at 400 locations. With the new investment, this number should more than quadruple by 2025, at which point IONITY Is aiming for 7,000 charging points across more than 1,000 locations. Each charging point is 350kW.
“We continue to build upon simple, unwavering principles: no decarbonisation without electrification and no electrification without infrastructure,” a statement published on the IONITY website today reads.
The statement also adds that BlackRock’s entry as a shareholder “underlines the project’s attractiveness for investors”.
IONITY has confirmed it will change its planning and installation approach to meet the new targets. Future locations will have more chargers in one place than those already built – up to 12 charging points per location. Existing locations will also be upgraded with more charging points where possible.
For larger locations, the project has developed a new concept called ‘Oasis’ – a design for charging stations in which there is a protected garden environment at the centre, which can be used by motorists as they charge their cars, and a series of charging bays around the outside.
Additionally, IONITY has, to date, only installed charging locations on motorways. It will now add locations near major cities and other busy interconnecting routes.
A statement on the Oasis concept confirms that IONITY Is planning to “increasingly acquire its own properties and, depending on location, build and operate its own service stations”.
According to Transport & Environment, there are, on average, five rapid EV chargers available to the public for every 100km of road route across the EU. This piece of research also found that there are, at present, around seven EVs in Europe for every public charger.
A far more rapid expansion of the public EV charging stock will be needed in the coming years if the EU and UK are to lay the foundations for their 2050 net-zero pledges. Additionally, issues with consumer accessibility and protections; grid infrastructure upgrades and ensuring that access is equal will need to be addressed. For example, the T&E study found that public chargers are far more readily available in countries like Norway and Germany than the likes of Spain or Portugal. And, within nations, access is generally better in large cities or on motorways than in more rural towns and villages.