Major carmakers get ahead with North American fast-charging alliance Ionna

The fast-charging joint venture announced last summer by seven car manufacturers like GM or Stellantis has officially taken up operations as 'Ionna', following approval from the regulatory authorities. The first high powered hubs are set to open in the USA in 2024.

Image: Mercedes-Benz

With Seth Cutler, who became CEO on 1 February 2024, Ionna plans to build at least 30,000 fast-charging points in North America. BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis reportedly joined forces last summer and set the target at the time.

The latest announcement also reiterates the focus on reliability and accessibility, with columns equipped with CCS and NACS connectors. This is also a challenge to both Tesla and Volkswagen. Tesla’s Superchargers are currently regarded as North America’s most reliable and widespread fast chargers. The VW subsidiary Electrify America also has an extended network across the US and Canada.

Ionna also envisions “multiple high-powered chargers to facilitate long-distance journeys” per site but has yet to disclose more detailed numbers. Power shall come from renewable energy.

Overall, the joint venture aims for a “vehicle-integrated, best-in-class charging experience” with amenities provided at the sites; the charging stations should be equipped with a canopy. The services should further “facilitate seamless integration with participating automakers’ in-vehicle and in-app experiences, encompassing reservations, intelligent route planning and navigation, payment applications, transparent energy management, and additional features”.

According to the press release, the new Ionna CEO, Seth Cutler, brings “a wealth of experience in electric mobility and charging to shape the joint venture right from the start”. Cutler was most recently President and COO of EV Connect and drove key charging projects as Senior VP of Technical Operations. Before joining EV Connect, Cutler was chief engineer in the early stages of Electrify America. 

“I am honored to lead Ionna and work alongside these esteemed automakers in shaping the future of electric mobility,” he said. “Our shared commitment to creating an extensive, high-powered charging network reflects our dedication to revolutionizing the entire EV charging experience and helping to drive widespread EV adoption.” 

Mercedes-Benz is also pushing ahead in parallel with its planned global HPC network to be started in North America. The concept in the US is similar to Ionna: roofed fast chargers with NACS and CCS stations accessible to all brands but with preferential treatments for Mercedes customers, such as reservations. Mercedes’ first North American charging park went online in Sandy Springs in November 2023, and the company opened several sites in China.

The carmaker is also planning a joint fast-charging network with BMW with at least 1,000 locations and around 7,000 connections in China. The partners recently received the green light from the EU for the Chinese joint venture.

Moreover, Ionna partners BMW and Mercedes, as well as Hyundai, have experience working together towards high-power charging in Europe. The companies run Ionity, which offers over 3,300 HPC points at nearly 600 sites in 24 European countries.

As for Ionna, the JV will open the first charging hubs this summer in the USA and later in Canada. The charging power remains unspecified but will likely be at a 150 kW minimum.,


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