Shell service station
Shell is joining the electric car charging cause. Reuters

A joint venture by four car manufacturers to install 400 electric car charging stations across Europe has been backed by oil conglomerate Shell.

The collaboration will have stations offering charge rates of 350kW. Tesla leads the way for charging speeds at the moment at 120kW. Typical electric car chargers sit at around 50kW. No electric cars are capable of charging at 350kW but the alliance is hopeful the technology will become available in the future.

IONITY - which comprises of BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen - will roll out the stations by 2020, starting with 20 locations by the end of the year. It was announced on Monday (27 November) that Shell would join the deal and increase the total number of countries involved to 18.

Great Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands will all be getting the charging stations. IONITY chief operator Marcus Groll spoke highly of Shell's decision to join the initiative.

"The agreements with these prestigious partners constitute an important initial milestone in our relatively short company history. So in the future, we will be able to offer a large number of fast charging stations at attractive sites along major roads in Europe," Groll said.

Shell vice president of retail István Kapitány recognised the demand for electric charging points. "Customers want to be able to travel long distances in electric vehicles, with the knowledge that there is realiable, convenient means of charging their vehicles," Kapitány said.

Several European service station chains have already sign on, including Tank & Rast, Circle K and OMV. The three brands will be deploying stations across Germany, Norway and Austria.

The companies will all have equal shares in the venture and other car manufacturers are invited to expand the network. Porsche (which is owned by Volkswagen) chairman Oliver Blume described the launch of IONITY as a breakthrough for fast charging infrastructure in Europe. "With the rapid charging network of IONITY, we are ensuring that our customers can use electric cars on long journeys without compromising on convenience," Blume said.