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Stellantis, BMW, Others Join Forces For IONNA Charging Network

Photo Courtesy Hyundai

Last summer, seven of the world’s biggest auto producers announced they were entering a joint venture (JV) to tackle electric vehicle (EV) charging woes in the United States. The company now has a name and leader. IONNA is on a mission to electrify more of America’s highways, and new CEO Seth Cutler is leading the way. 

IONNA is a product of collaboration between Stellantis, Honda, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, and GM. The JV will deploy the first charging stations this year as the company seeks to reduce range anxieties some consumers still hold over EVs. The goal is to have more than 30,000 stations across the U.S., more than the number of Tesla Superchargers currently online. 

Plans for IONNA were formulated in July 2023 in light of the North American Charging Standard (NACS) ruling. The U.S. government said Tesla charging stations must be universal, and all future EV charging stations must switch to Tesla’s standard or provide adapters to customers. The Telsa Supercharger is still the highest-performing and quickest public charger. All Tesla charging stations have to be universal by July 1, 2024. 

Photo Courtesy Neo Tan

IONNA chargers will follow the NACS and the Combined Charging System (CCS), the other most commonly used charging cords. They also plan to make charging stations more like traditional rest stops, with food, restaurants, restrooms, and retail. All IONNA chargers will comply with the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) requirements. 

Cutler comes from an executive management background in EV charging. He held positions at EV Connect, Electrify America, and GM — all centered around EV infrastructure. 

“I am honored to lead IONNA and work alongside these esteemed automakers in shaping the future of electric mobility,” Cutler said in several press releases. “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.” 

The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates the country needs 182,000 public fast-charging plugs by 2030 to meet demand and decarbonization goals. However, the rollout has been slow, and access has been limited. Until recently, Tesla Superchargers were off-limits to non-Tesla vehicles. 

Third-party charging companies have been installing more stations — ChargePoint has the largest U.S. network — but Tesla’s highly ranked network is the largest global one and has the most fast charging stations in America. More car companies are creating their own networks, such as Mercedes and GM’s collaboration with EVgo for the Ultium charging stations. 

IONNA is joining a surging business venture. NREL also believes there could be 30–42 million light-duty vehicles on the road, so the time for a more modern American interstate system is paramount. 

Amid this announcement also came the news that Stellantis is adopting the NACS. Almost every major car brand is aligning with it, including Tesla’s rivals Rivian, Fisker, and Lucid.

Auto journalists and policymakers believe more charging stations are needed as more EVs roll off the production line. Whether they come from a charging-specific company or an established auto brand is no longer a big deal.

Photo Courtesy Zaptec

The business of EV charging is booming. The White House reported that EVs and hybrid cars jumped by 18% in the third quarter of 2023. More than 1 million EVs were sold last year, too.

The Inflation Reduction Act has allowed manufacturers to produce cost-effective EV infrastructure like charging stations. While home charging has taken off, public charging remains tougher to profit from. According to a Greenlogic blog post, EV charging firms, on average, yield around 15–35% profitability when factoring in location, pricing structure, operational costs, and utilization.  

It’s unknown how Ionna and the seven car brands will profit from this venture, but it is a step forward in the national decarbonization effort. More chargers seem to be the answer, especially as EVs become more reliable.


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