BMW, Daimler (parent of Mercedes-Benz and Smart), Ford and Volkswagen have joined forces to roll out a fast charging network for electric cars across Europe.
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Ionity, a new joint venture company equally owned by the four automakers, plans to have approximately 400 high-power charging stations open "across European major thoroughfares" by 2020.

According to the partners, Ionity will have 20 operational stations by the end of 2017. These 20 stations will be located on major highways in Germany, Austria and Norway, and will be spaced around 120 kilometres apart.

The initial charging stations will be located at petrol stations operated by Germany's Tank & Rast group, Austria's state-run oil company OMV, and Circle K in Norway. Ionity plans to have 100 charging stations open by the end of 2018.

Each charging point will supply up to 350kW, and will use the Combined Charging System standard to ensure "multi-brand compatibility with current and future generations of electric vehicles".

Above: Tesla currently operates a network of proprietary fast charging stations throughout North America, Europe and Australia.

The company says its "brand-agnostic approach and Europe-wide distribution is expected to help make electrified vehicles more appealing".

The new company will be based in Munich, and will be growing its staff numbers to around 50 in the short term. Although jointly owned by BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen, Ionity says other car makers "are invested to help expand the network".