Electric Cars

BMW, Ford and VW invest in European EV fast-charging corridors

This ambitious plan will start with 400 chargers across the Continent, but the sky's the limit.

Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times

Supporters of the CCS charging standard include General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Hyundai, in addition to the automakers mentioned in this article.

Ford

The lack of public chargers remains the major roadblock between our current auto landscape and our electrified future. Thanks to a number of European automakers, that roadblock could be knocked down within the next decade.

BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen have combined forces to invest in a series of fast EV chargers across Europe. The buildup is slated to start in 2017, with an initial goal of 400 charging sites. By 2020, it's believed that this network will offer "thousands" of chargers, which would be a huge boost to the EV market.

The chargers will be based on the Combined Charging System standard, which is compatible with a number of current and future EVs -- except for Teslas, which require adapters to access standards other than its own.

The companies behind the buildup claim the chargers will be able to achieve a charging level of 350 kilowatts, which is nearly three times as powerful as Tesla's 120-kW Supercharger system. This would be able to provide a great deal of charge in as little as 10 or 15 minutes, which is getting closer to the time it takes to fill up a gas-powered car, even though it's still a ways off from that.

Pie-in-the-sky thinking like this is all but required in order to ramp up EV demand. Right now, long-distance EV travel is still difficult, not only because of the lack of infrastructure but also the slow charging speeds of currently available stations. To make the transition as smooth as possible, EVs will need to offer ample charging locations that minimize downtime.

Not every automaker is getting in on this EV Justice League, though. General Motors, for example, is not a part of this massive investment, though it does back CCS. In the past, GM claimed that it doesn't dabble in infrastructure, something other automakers have said over the years, as well. But automakers have both the capital and the desire to see it through. Sitting around waiting for private companies to step up and greatly expand access to charging could very well stunt EV growth for years to come.

Now Playing: Watch this: Through Europe in a Tesla Model S part 1: Under the sea
4:49