Pan-European charging network, IONITY, forms strategic partnerships with key forecourt operators

IONITY, the new High Power Charging (HPC) network for electric vehicles in Europe, has got off to a flying start. Founded as a joint venture of BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen with Audi and Porshe at the beginning of November, IONITY has now formed initial strategic partnerships with Shell, OMV, Tank & Rest and Circle K, which means it has secured the coverage of more than half of the approximate 400 sites planned between now and 2020. And further partnerships are already in the pipeline.

Based in Munich, Germany, IONITY is led by chief executive officer Michael Hajesch and chief operating officer Marcus Groll and aims to become the most high-powered fast charging network for electric vehicles in Europe.

The formation of strategic partnerships with Shell, Tank & Rast, OMV and Circle K for the realization of its European fast charging network is set to see IONITY enter 18 European countries.

The installation of HPC charging stations directly on the major thoroughfares will make electromobility significantly more convenient and the charging capacity of up to 350 kW is expected to reduce the waiting time for customers to a minimum, the company reports.

“The agreements with these prestigious partners constitute an important initial milestone in our relatively short company history. So in the future, we will be able to offer a large number of fast charging stations at attractive sites along major roads in Europe,” says Groll.

By joining forces with Shell, IONITY will be able to install its fast charging infrastructure at sites throughout 10 European countries: Belgium, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Shell has more than 43,000 retail sites in close to 80 countries, which makes it the world’s largest fuels retailer with 500,000 dedicated service champions serving 30 million daily customers on Shell branded forecourts around the world. Shell uses advanced technologies and takes an innovative approach to help build a sustainable energy future.

The Shell and IONITY collaboration will reinforce the business strategy pursued by both companies to offer more and more drivers of electric vehicles a fast, reliable charging service at attractive sites.

“Customers want to be able to travel long distances in electric vehicles – with the knowledge that there is a reliable, convenient means of charging their vehicles,” says István Kapitány, Shell executive vice president of retail.

The site partner in Germany is Autobahn Tank & Rast, which operates around 360 petrol stations and 400 service stations, including approximately 50 hotels, within the German motorway network. Approximately 500 million travelers visit Tank & Rast service areas every year. Serways is the service mark of Tank & Rast, which stands for improved customer focus and increased service quality. Some 210 service areas are branded as Serways.

“Germany is an important transit country in the European transport system. Our collaboration with IONITY will promote unlimited, cross-border e-mobility along Europe’s main roads. This means we will be facilitating the breakthrough of electromobility in Germany and beyond. By installing fast charging stations with a 350 kW charging capacity in the Tank & Rast service network, we are taking the next step and gearing our service to the future needs of our customers,” says Jörg Hofmeister, head of electromobility at Tank & Rast.

IONITY is working with the Austrian company OMV on the roll-out of a fast charging infrastructure in Austria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. OMV Aktiengesellschaft is one of Austria’s largest listed industrial companies. Its downstream operations include more than 2,000 filling stations in 10 countries as of June 2017. Manfred Leitner, director of downstream operations at OMV, says: “In co-operation with the automobile industry, we are working on a fast-growing field of technology. We are intensifying our efforts to offer our customers an additional alternative mobility service, thereby moving one step closer to a sustainable energy future.”

By teaming up with Circle K in Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, IONITY said it will be able to forge ahead with the construction of its fast charging network in Northern Europe.

Circle K AS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. In Europe, Couche-Tard operates 2,754 stores, comprising a broad retail network across nine countries. Including employees at its branded franchise stations, about 25,000 people work in its retail network, terminals and service offices across Europe.

“We are proud to be working with IONITY on the development of the most high-powered charging network in Europe. Our collaboration substantiates Circle K’s aspiration to shape mobility solutions in our core markets,” says Jacob Schram, group president of Circle K Europe. The European headquarters of Circle K are situated in Norway - the world’s third-largest EV market. “Norway is a very exciting market for us. It is regarded as Europe’s model nation in terms of electromobility,” says Hajesch of IONITY. “Here, our fast charging stations will enable us to make an important contribution to the further market development of electromobility.”

IONITY uses the European charging standard “Combined Charging System” (CCS) with a charging capacity of up to 350 kW. According to the company, this means it will provide cross-brand compatibility with most present-day and future electric vehicles.

The charging stations are equipped with the latest e-charging technology and will have six charging points on average. They will be easily accessible for the public situated at a distance of approximately 120 km from each other. Together with its partners, IONITY is already working on delivering the first 20 sites in more than 10 countries.

Working together with the experienced site partners Shell, Tank & Rast, OMV and Circle K is an important step on the road to establishing a European network of fast charging stations by 2020, IONITY said. “It paves the way for electromobility to gain mass appeal even over long distances.”

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Fiona BriggsFiona Briggs Freelance retail business journalist

Fiona is an experienced journalist and editor, writing exclusive content for GCSF. She is founder of retailtimes.co.uk. She contributes regularly to NACS Magazine and writes articles on omnichannel shopper trends for Radial. Fiona is available for commissions at fionalbriggs@gmail.com

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