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Hyundai plugs into Europe’s EV network with Ionity stake

Sept 10,2019
A Kia Motors Niro electric car, right, is charged at an Ionity charging station in Munich, Germany. [HYUNDAI MOTOR GROUP]
Hyundai Motor Group announced Monday that it has invested in Europe’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure builder Ionity to expand its presence in the fast-growing European EV market.

The group did not disclose the amount of its investment but said it will obtain a 20 percent stake in Ionity, a joint venture of BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and the Volkswagen Group established in 2017. The founding partners also hold equal shares in the joint venture, the Korean company said.

Hyundai said its participation will provide enhanced benefits for Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors’ European customers as they will be able to use Ionity’s high-power charging facilities.

Ionity already has nearly 140 charging stations in Europe in operation. Fifty more stations are under construction.

The joint venture’s goal by 2020 is to expand its network to 400 high-power charging stations, with an average of at least one site every 120 kilometers (75 miles) along major European highways, Hyundai said.

Ionity’s high-power charging stations offer charging at a capacity of up to 350 kilowatts, which can speed up charging by up to seven times compared to existing fast-charging stations with a capacity of between 50 to 150 kilowatts, according to Hyundai.

The Korean auto group said Hyundai and Kia will start rolling out electric cars equipped with 800 volt charging systems that can accommodate Ionity’s charging power from 2021. Currently, the group’s electric cars come with 400 volt charging systems that align with 50 to 150 kilowatt charging power.

“To charge cars with higher-power chargers, cars also need charging systems that can stand the high voltage,” Hyundai said in statement.

According to Hyundai, it takes about 54 minutes to charge 80 percent of its existing Kona Electric SUVs using 100 kilowatt power fast chargers. However, when its cars are equipped with 800 volt charging systems in the future, it will take only about 15 minutes to charge 80 percent of the car’s battery with the Ionity 350 kilowatt power chargers.

The time taken to charge 80 percent of the battery is mostly used to compare a car’s charging time, since cars charge significantly slower afterwards to protect the battery system.

“Our participation in this joint venture reaffirms the group’s commitment to future ‘electromobility,’” said Thomas Schemera, executive vice president and head of the product division at Hyundai Motor Group. “I am confident that our work with Ionity will open a new era of high-power charging experiences, where charging will be seamless and easier than refueling for our customers.”

The Korean group is hoping Hyundai and Kia will sell more electric cars in Europe based on its partnership with Ionity. The group is expecting electric cars to account for 20 to 30 percent of the total European car market by 2030.

Hyundai and Kia have sold 23,000 electric cars in Europe in the first half of this year, which is a roughly 200 percent increase year-on-year.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]


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