Whether you like it or not, electric cars are here to stay. And with all the major car manufacturers of the world throwing their weight behind this technology, the future is definitely going to be electric. While the technology has advanced considerably over the years, the biggest limiting factor remains its battery and charging solutions. In a major development towards solving this, five major brands have come together this week to establish a charging network along European highways. BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group’s Audi and Porsche have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together towards building up a number of stations on major highways that will enable long-distance travel for electric vehicle drivers.

Seen as a key step towards facilitating mass-market adoption of the battery electric vehicle model, the joint-venture ultra-fast charging network will have power levels up to 350kW, which will make it significantly faster than the most powerful charging systems in use today. The build-up of the network is expected to start next year, with about 400 such stations planned as part of the initial phase. And by 2020, “thousands” of charging points will be spread across the continent, according to the plan.

The network, which will be based on Combined Charging System (CCS) standard technology, but will tweak the existing for AC- and DC charging technology and enable DC fast charging. The consortium says this will lead to a charging experience that will be as convenient as refueling at conventional fuel stations today. “This high-power charging network provides motorists with another strong argument to move towards electric mobility,” says Harald Krüger, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “The joint project is another major milestone clearly demonstrating that competitors are combining forces to ramp-up e-mobility,” he adds. In their separate statements, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company, Rupert Stadler, chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, and Oliver Blume, chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, echoed the same view.