Growth of EV fast chargers is critical to ongoing fast growth of the electric vehicle market. Deployment of EV fast chargers — also called high-powered chargers — has been going well, but it could always go faster. Now, just as it seemed the industry was consolidating a bit, we’ve got a new entrant to help get a lot more stations in the ground: IONNA.
Who? That’s the point — it’s new. But the companies behind it won’t be new to you. This is a joint venture between 7 major automakers — BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis. The joint venture was actually announced back in July 2023. Now, the first official approvals for work are in and operations are commencing!
The initial charging stations are expected to be launched in 2024 in the US. But it will be a long process of growth, as the joint venture aims to install 30,000 across the US and Canada!
Additionally, Seth Cutler, formerly at EV Connect, has been appointed as IONNA’s CEO. He started on the job last week, February 1. “Cutler brings a wealth of experience in electric mobility and charging to shape the joint venture right from the start. In his role as Senior Vice President of Technical Operations at EV Connect, Cutler drastically expanded the network of charging station manufacturers,” Hyundai writes in a news release. “Most recently serving as the President and Chief Operations Officer, he started several initiatives to transform the company from a ‘start-up’ to a ‘scale-up’ phase. Before joining EV Connect, Cutler took the lead in engineering, orchestrating the development and implementation of a high-powered charging network as Chief Engineer in the early phase of Electrify America. He started his career at General Electric (GE), where his versatile roles included that of General Manager of EV infrastructure. In this capacity, he focused on the development, manufacturing, and deployment of charging stations, contributing significantly to GE’s footprint in the electric mobility sector.” Sounds impressive. Like he was made for this role.
“I am honored to lead IONNA and work alongside these esteemed automakers in shaping the future of electric mobility. Our shared commitment to creating an extensive, high-powered charging network reflects our dedication to revolutionizing the entire EV charging experience and helping to drive widespread EV adoption,” said Seth Cutler, CEO IONNA.
What will actually be special about IONNA, though? With Cutler’s leadership and IONNA’s stated goals, I think it may be better than we presume. Naturally, the news release talks about reliability and accessibility, and it will include both NACS and CCS charging ports for EV drivers. But IONNA also states that it “aims to provide a seamless, vehicle-integrated, best-in-class charging experience.” This, to me, sounds like the completely smooth and easy experience you get with Tesla Supercharging — pull into the parking spot, get out of the car, plug in; and with good navigation to the charger and battery pre-conditioning to boot. If IONNA can offer that, and perhaps even make it smoother somehow, that could be a game changer for the automakers behind the initiative — BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis. But that’s not all!
Chargers also need to be in good locations with good lighting, food, coffee, bathrooms, and attractive seating. If the news release is to be believed, the IONNA network will have all of this. FINALLY, a company (or group of companies) is aiming to make charging stations what they should be. “This will be realized by providing various amenities, such as restrooms, food service, and retail operations nearby or within the same complex, digital integration and appealing locations. Customers can expect convenient locations that will come with canopies wherever possible to even further focus on unprecedented customer comfort and charging ease. The network’s functions and services will facilitate seamless integration with participating automakers’ in-vehicle and in-app experiences, encompassing reservations, intelligent route planning and navigation, payment applications, transparent energy management, and additional features.”
This is the first time in the United States that a charging network is aiming to out-do Tesla’s Supercharger network. (There’s an example or two in Europe.) It is really trying to bring the fast charging experience to its full potential.
Not only that, but they are supposed to be all powered by renewable energy as well. What’s not to love?
The only thing left is to see how fast IONNA can roll these out!
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