Innovation / Article

A future full of energy: The IONITY high-power charging network

It is the biggest question related to electromobility: Will the market pick up when there are more attractive models, or will customers only buy electric cars after the charging infrastructure has been built up sufficiently? A consortium of car manufacturers is helping to answer this question by installing a network of public high-power charging stations for e-vehicles along motorways across Europe, known as IONITY. The structure of the European network, which is comprised of members from 25 countries, as well as the choice of the locations for the IONITY charging stations, was developed in conjunction with a European cross-service line team from EY under the management of EY Real Estate GmbH.

The challenge was to bring together the various disciplines for the network planning of the charging stations, the evaluation of specific operating partners on a broader scale, and consideration of the interests of the manufacturers within the IONITY consortium. To meet these requirements, specialists from the Real Estate, International Location Advisory Services (ILAS), EY Law, E-Mobility, Oil & Gas and Automotive Advisory were assembled to form a team. The project called for EY’s strengths: efficient international collaboration on a key forward-looking topic, an interdisciplinary approach and networking. In addition to the local market presence and networking among colleagues, EY also helped on the collaboration with two of Europe’s leading universities with respect to infrastructure planning.

The goal was to offer all customers a uniform infrastructure along European motorways to enable long-distance travel with electric vehicles. In contrast to the standard charging infrastructure, the high-power charging hardware provides a charge of 1,000 V and 350 kW, allowing drivers to charge their batteries up to 80% in 15 minutes – similar to stopping to put petrol in the tank and have a coffee. The plan, which calls for charging stations to be built no further than 130–150 kilometres apart, will make it possible for all electric vehicles, including those already available, to travel anywhere in Europe.

Plan, assess, negotiate: Project success from a single source

The project involved two major steps:

During network planning, the criteria for selecting locations had to be defined and compared with the specific situation and structures in national markets (with Concessions being the key). Working together with two universities, EY took a number of factors into account, including knowledge about the macro situation, comprehensive EY data from previous projects regarding operator and owner structures, and big data collected on traffic flows, trip data for the European Union and navigational geo-data. This resulted in an appropriate network plan with suitable locations and potential partner companies. Local EY teams then assessed the features of each market before deciding on the priority of potential locations in workshops with IONITY.

The second step involved negotiating with the operators of potential charging locations and assessing the technical feasibility based on the implementation timeline. At the very least, a location needs to have a medium-voltage power input of 2.1 MW for six charging stations. EY employees conducted inspections of all locations to assess the qualitative and soft factors. At the same time, EY contacted the owners and concession holders, made preliminary enquiries about network connections and building permits and prepared initial cost estimates for implementation.

Many partners, many countries, one goal: the future of mobility

IONITY shapes the network concept on two levels: Firstly, manufacturers BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen (with all of its brands including Audi, Porsche, Škoda and Seat) worked together on the project – a first for the auto industry; secondly, a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles was developed across country borders that is more powerful and faster than ever before. The work was also pioneering for EY. The result of the project is a feasible and evaluated network of 400 high-power charging stations that will move e-mobility forward across Europe. The initial pilot stations were available at the end of 2017 and the entire network should be online by 2020.

EY refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients.