Seven Automakers Create IONNA, New U.S. Charging Network


 Kurt Verlin

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IONNA Slogan: We Charge North America
Photo: IONNA

Last year, seven global automakers — BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis — announced the formation of a new joint venture that would add 30,000 new electric vehicle charging stations across North America. This month, they finally announced the name of this venture — IONNA — as well as additional details regarding the project.

IONNA will not quite be a competitor to the existing Tesla Supercharger network, as it be compatible with both the Combined Charging System standard as well as Tesla’s North American Charging Standard.

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Seth Cutler, former president and COO of EVconnect, and former chief infrastructure engineer at Electrify America, was appointed as CEO of IONNA. However, he has declined to do interviews for three months so he could have “time to settle in, get the first big things done, and then have some great news to talk about.”

IONNA is likely a portmanteau of “IONITY” and “NA.” IONITY is a pan-European charging network founded by BMW, Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen, with Hyundai and Kia joining at a later time. BMW and Mercedes-Benz tried to launch a North American version of the network around 2021 or 2022, which fell through due to lack of support by other automakers. At the time, it seemed that Electrify America would fill the need for a stronger, better-equipped charging network. But EA, created with the wrong incentives, has largely missed the mark.

Seth Cutler, CEO of IONNA
Seth Cutler, CEO of IONNA
Photo: IONNA

America’s current EV charging infrastructure is lacking, with the total number of charging stations totaling to only about half of the number of gas stations. Compatibility between vehicles can also be a problem, and many charging stations lack suitable amenities for customers, even though they may need to wait for over half an hour for their car to charge. Today, to get a pleasant EV charging experience, you need a Tesla.

The new IONNA charging network plans to change that. It will have six to 10 charging ports capable of 350 kW, each “sheltered from the elements, in safe, well-lit locations with facilities akin to airline lounges, including bathrooms and refreshments,” a source told ChargedEVs. The new network also plans to integrate with automaker’s apps and in-car route planners, making it easier to find stations with built-in navigation as well as use integrated payment systems.

In Europe, IONITY says it will have over 5,000 locations running in 20 countries by 2025. In North America, IONNA is targeting 30,000 locations operational by 2030, with the first batch due to open this year. Locations will be along urban areas and highways, and some will be flagship stations.

The largest obstacles in the way of widespread EV adoption are charging times and charging availability. By adding 30,000 new stations over the next six years, IONNA will be helping widen the market for EV manufacturers.


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