Dr. Michael Hajesch, CEO, Ionity

What do red kites have to do with battery electric driving? „They’re incredibly efficient and can travel very long distances across borders. That makes them the perfect heraldic symbol for Ionity,“ explains Michael Hajesch, head of a European consortium that aims to make long distances feasible for electric vehicles.

Ionity was founded in late 2017 as a joint venture by BMW, Daimler, Ford, and VW Group brands Audi and Porsche. The mission was clear: to set up a high-power fast charging network along European transport axes. There are 400 motorway charging stations planned, from Sicily to Spitsbergen and Budapest to Lisbon. In just twelve months, said Hajesch, the company had made tremendous progress. „We’ve already signed the contracts for 90 percent of the planned locations. Over 30 charging parks with an average of six charging stations are already operational, and around 50 more are under construction.“ The Ionity boss said the rollout was most advanced in Germany, with Norway, Austria and Switzerland not far behind. Strong partnerships across Europe were the enabler for this rapid pace; without them, it would take years just to locate and develop the charging park locations. In Germany, for example, Ionity cooperates with service station operators Tank & Rast: across Europe, big-name energy suppliers, mineral oil companies, electrical engineering companies and many other top partners were all on board.

But why are car manufacturers in particular involved in growing the charging infrastructure? After all, they never used to build filling stations. „Charging infrastructure availability is the key to making electromobility marketable,“ explained Michael Hajesch, “particularly over long distances. He said only ten percent of annual mileages were long distance, yet that share was critical for people thinking about switching to an electric car. In other words, people who felt confident about making business or holiday trips were far more likely to opt for an electric drive.

With a projected charging power of 350 kilowatts at all charging points in a station, ‘refuelling stops’ would take just ten to 30 minutes in future. To put that in perspective, Tesla’s so-called superchargers delivered just half that power. At first, Ionity planned to charge a flat fee of eight Euros per charge. Later, it would develop different pricing models – ‘more power will cost more’. The consortium picked the Combined Charging System (CCS) favoured by German manufacturers as its standard technology – a logical decision for Michael Hajesch, since „standardization is important for the new technology to penetrate the market.“ He said Ionity was equally committed to sustainability: all charging stations would run on ‘green’ electricity.

Automotive Summit 2018 – Executive Summary

In early December 2018, over 600 automotive experts from all over the world – including manufacturers and suppliers, tech and energy companies, politicians and associations – attended the auto industry summit in Wolfsburg, Germany. From 3 – 5 December, the industry’s big hitters discussed strategies, concepts and technologies for tomorrow’s automobiles and the future course of their industry.

We’ve compiled the highlights from the Handelsblatt Auto Summit 2018 in an interactive follow-up report.