Timelapse of Ionity Network Rollout — #CleanTechnica Video

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The European ultrafast EV charging network Ionity has recently upped the tempo of its CCS network rollout, having gone from 6 locations in operation in mid September (and 14 more under construction) to 23 locations operating as of mid November (and 40 more under construction). They look set to meet their initial goal of having 50 locations open (averaging 6 charging stalls each) by the end of 2018.

Plans for the network were announced by the founding members — VW group, Daimler, BWM, and Ford — in November 2016. The project was firmed up during 2017 and formalized as the Ionity Network in November 2017 with an initial 12 month goal of opening 50 working locations by the end of 2018.

They look well set to achieve this, having gone from 6 locations two months ago to 23 today, with 40 more under construction. That they have so far managed to keep to their original timeline suggests that the Ionity team is serious in its medium-term intent to open 400 locations by the end of 2020. This makes for a refreshing change for an electric mobility project backed by legacy auto companies, whose past EV press releases have often turned out to be little more than smoke and mirrors.

I’ve compiled a time-lapse video (here if the embedded frame below isn’t accessible) of the Ionity buildout over the past two months, so that you can get a sense of the speed of recent progress. You can visit the Ionity map page to keep an eye on future progress. Note that there are 2 locations north, and 2 south, that don’t make it onto the main portion of the map used for the video:

Currently, many of these early Ionity locations have only 4 charging stalls available, though the near-term target is to have an average of 6 stalls per location, no doubt with scope to expand that number at the busiest locations in the future. Notably, each stall can supply up to 350 kW of DC power via the CCS interface, meaning the network is future-proofed for EVs capable of charging at these power levels. The only vehicle with this capability announced so far is the Porsche Taycan, due to go on sale in late 2019.

With the recent news that Tesla’s European EVs will soon be able to charge on CCS infrastructure, the Ionity network will also provide a welcome addition to the fast charging options for Tesla owners. That’s not to say this is desperately needed by Tesla owners, however, as the Supercharger network is already very well developed in Europe and continues to rapidly expand (note that most Supercharger locations have 8 or more charging stalls, and grey points indicate locations “coming soon”):

Combining the Ionity network with Fastned’s 175 kW chargers and the few other 100+ kW CCS chargers available, here is the current overall map of 100+ kW locations (note that most of these locations have just one or two charging stalls, a few have 3 or 4 stalls):

The below picture, comprising mostly the slower 50 kW CCS locations, looks impressive on the surface. These 1st gen DC chargers are fine for adding decent range during an hour’s meal break, but don’t provide road-trip-ready amounts of charge during shorter 20–30 minute breaks. This is the kind of break in the midpoint of a long journey that the current generation of 200+ mile EVs with 70+ kW charging are designed to make use of.

The below map represents the total number of CCS charging locations (of all kW power levels) in the main body of Europe (find the full map here). Again, it’s important to note that many of these locations provide only a single charger, some may or may not in fact be working when you need them, some may not be accessible 24 hours, or may not be easily available to use if you are not already signed up to the specific network operator:

Given the above caveats, the European CCS chargers don’t amount to a unified network. Audi, which in 2019 plans to sell the e-tron EV (with 150 kW CCS charging), has recognized this problem. As Audi put it, “There are, in fact, already over 80,000 charging points in Europe—but they are from 1,000 different operators, all with a different app or different payment systems.”

To help provide its EV customers with more seamless access to charging points, Audi is developing the e-tron Charging Service, which aims to make 80% of European charging points available under a unified access and payment system. Audi’s initiative clearly highlights the current friction (resistance?) of using the disparate charging networks in Europe.

Whether Audi will be able to use its clout to find a good solution, and whether EV owners in general can expect to enjoy such convenience in DC fast charging anytime soon, remains to be seen. At the moment, Tesla owners have a clear advantage when it comes to reliable, widespread, and convenient DC fast charging. That being said, it’s great to see Ionity making progress with its Europe-wide next-gen CCS charging network, and kudos to the network for offering high enough power levels to be reasonably future-proof.

Please share your thoughts in the comments, and please advise if you know of a reliable Europe-wide CCS (or universal) charger map that allows filtering by power level (e.g., filters by 50, 100, 150 kW that actually work). The goingelectric.de map above is the only one I have found so far.

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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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