Europe charged up
IONITY GmbH, a joint venture between selected automotive companies with the participation of Audi, wants to drive the expansion of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles on long-distance routes in the coming years. In the Europe-wide network of fast-charging stations (high-power charging, or HPC for short), appropriately designed vehicles can be charged with a charging capacity of up to 350 kilowatts per charging point in a significantly shorter charge time compared to systems available today. The first purely electrically driven Audi will be one of the first vehicles to benefit from this. For example, in the future, the vehicle owner will receive discounted access to the IONITY fast-charging network via Audi’s own driving charge provider, the e-tron Charging Service. IONITY COO and managing director Marcus Groll is interviewed.
Marcus Groll: ‘A big hurdle in electric mobility is suitability for long distances – at present this needs to be extended. When making a purchasing decision, many customers ask themselves: can I also use the car to go on holiday? Or can I get to the seaside at the weekend? Therefore, for the first step, IONITY is focusing on developing a pan-European charging network along motorways. The first purely electrically driven Audi has a battery that is suitable for long distances. The charging network that we are providing will do everything it can to ensure that the customer can trust his/her decision to purchase an electric vehicle and need no longer fear the range.’
We are providing the Audi customer with a cross-border, powerful, reliable and comprehensive fast-charging network.
‘We are pursuing ambitious goals because we want to provide Audi customers with a cross-border, powerful, reliable and comprehensive fast-charging network as quickly as possible. By the summer of 2018, the first 20 locations will be up and running in ten countries: Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom. This is then followed by a large installation phase in the middle of the year. By the end of 2018, we want to be operating up to 200 locations. This depends only on whether the country-specific approval procedures and hardware development keep pace with our planning. And in the first half of 2020, our network will have 400 locations.’
‘Audi drivers will perhaps charge their vehicle overnight at home. Or charge via Audi’s own driving charge provider, the e-tron Charging Service, in the destination city. We are focusing on locations on or along motorways. Because our goal is to offer customers the best provision along their travel routes. In the process, the following is important to us: which services will the customer find at the locations? A café – better still, a restaurant – toilets, of course, Wi-Fi for working, ideally a playground for the children – the more services, the better the location.’
Electrification is a new form of mobility.“
‘Electrification is a new form of mobility. Charging the battery bears no relation to conventional refuelling. When refuelling an internal-combustion vehicle, the customer is responsible for filling the tank and then goes to the checkout to pay. At the IONITY charging points, it is a premium plug-and-charge experience. The customer simply plugs in our European-standard-compliant CCS plug – authentication and billing are conducted automatically in the background – and enjoys his/her break during the charging process. I do not stop to charge; I charge while I stop. And during my break, I want to use my time individually. This includes the best possible service offering.’
IONITY offers an average of six charging points per location.
The first purely electric Audi will be one of the first series vehicles with the ability to charge up to 150 kW. Do IONITY charging stations provide this service?
‘Of course. We will offer charging points with a maximum capacity as high as 350 kW to ensure as short a charging time as possible. Two years ago, people were saying that the 50 kW available at charging points on motorways today were state of the art. Now we can provide seven times this performance. Through the development of car manufacturers such as Audi, the development of charging technology has been driven strongly. IONITY offers an average of six charging points per location. So you can charge six Audis with a charging capacity of 150 kW at the same time at full power. What’s more, it will likely only be eight to ten years from now that all six charging points will be in use at the same time.’
Can I charge with electricity from renewable energy sources with IONITY?
‘This is of great concern to us! At all of our stations, we want to conclude power supply contracts with local electricity suppliers who will supply our charging stations with renewable energy.’
‘It was very, very important early on to pursue a shared vision with partners where the technical design of the charging infrastructure was concerned. All of our shareholders provided strong support in the set-up of the company. Through technical developments, such as from Audi, we saw very early what sort of charging technology was required on the vehicle side. These manufacturers are now benefiting from this. Because they had presented concept vehicles in 2015 with a charging capacity of 150 kW that will soon be coming onto the market and can thus be the first series vehicles to exploit the IONITY network.’
Audi stands for iconographic design and premium; the mobility experience e-tron is a very special example. What does this mean for the IONITY point of charge?
‘Premium design is also essential for us and reflects the IONITY brand. Customers should have the same positive feeling with us as with Audi or Apple. This not only means an unusual appearance and recognition factor at all stations with a special lighting concept. The charging experience is uniquely comfortable; all design elements have a functional character. Form follows function. We promise a premium charging experience that meets the needs of Audi customers.’