The Enel-led E-VIA FLEX-E project will see 14 ultra-fast 150-350kW charging stations built across southern France, Spain and Italy
Groupe Renault has partnered with a number of European utilities and international car makers to join the E-VIA FLEX-E project, an initiative to expand high-power charging facilities across the continent.
According to the partners, the aim of the network is to “reduce charging times and promote long-distance travel across Europe” in next-gen EVs, particularly those with a range of more than 300 km (and presumably fast-charging capabilities.)
Originally launched by utility Enel in the final days of 2017, E-VIA FLEX-E envisions the installation of 14 “ultra-fast charging stations” across France, Italy and Spain by the end of 2018. Eight will be opened in Italy, four in Spain and two in France, co-ordinated by Enel and co-financed by the European Commission. The EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for Transport programme will fund half of the project’s total budget of €6.9 million (US$8.5 million).
The extra-urban network will comprise high-power stations with a capacity of between 150kW and 350kW, located along motorways and expressways.
Alongside Renault and Enel, partners include EDF, Enedis and Verbund, Nissan and Ibil, a Spanish company which specialises in EV charging services.
Enel noted that the E-VIA FLEX-E network will join that of the EVA+ (Electric Vehicles Arteries) project, also co-financed by the European Commission, which will support 180 fast charging points (Fast Recharge Plus) built over three years along Italian extra-urban corridors.
The first 40 Fast stations have already been installed along the Rome-Milan route, among others. Italy alone expects to install 7,000 stations across the country by 2020, doubled to 14,000 this by 2022.
Renault has also backed the Ultra-E and High Speed Electric Mobility Across Europe networks in northern Europe, composed of 25 and 158 charging stations respectively.
Across the bloc, the build-out of EV charging infrastructure is ramping up with the support of almost every major automaker. In Germany fuel station operator Tank & Rast is expanding chargers along the autobahn, while other German manufacturers have outlined plans for a high-speed network across Europe which would see 350-kW AC and DC chargers – growing from 400 in 2017 to “thousands” by 2020.
Although there are few models capable of handling 350kW output at present, having a high-speed network established by 2020 will remove a considerable hurdle to widespread EV adoption. Provided these initiatives meet their installation targets, and with seemingly little shortage of EU funding to do so, fully electric motorways and autobahns appear to be right around the corner.