Complete guide to the IONITY rapid-charging network
The manufacturer-backed IONITY rapid-charging network is expanding across the UK and Europe – here's all you need to know
Formed following Shell’s acquisition of NewMotion – one of the largest charging providers in Europe –the IONITY rapid electric-vehicle charging network is now a joint venture involving Daimler (the parent company of Mercedes) along with BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Kia and the Volkswagen Group brands Porsche, Skoda and Audi.
The IONITY network operates across Europe, with 25 locations in the UK and Republic of Ireland as of June 2023. While that figure might seem small, the IONITY network is one of the very few that currently operates 350kW ultra-rapid chargers. At those speeds, the latest electric cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 can recharge their batteries from 10-80% in less than 18 minutes.
Where can I find IONITY chargers in the UK?
There are currently 99 active IONITY chargers in the UK, spread across 19 locations. These include Alnwick, Baldock, Beaconsfield, Cambridge, Chippenham, Cullompton, Gretna Green, Leeds Skelton Lake, Maidstone, Magor and Milton Keynes, as well as Channel Gateway, Cobham, Cringleford, Peterborough, Perth and Polmadie. A further six sites are operational in Ireland; the company's website features a map that plots both live and in-progress sites across the UK and Europe.
Several IONITY charging hubs are located at motorway service areas run by the Extra MSA Group. These include the Leeds Skelton Lake (M1, J45), Cambridge (A14/M11, J28), Cobham (M25), Beaconsfield (M40, J2), Cullompton (M5, J28), Baldock (A1M, J10) and Peterborough (A1M, J17) locations.
How much does charging cost on the IONITY network?
Previously, the IONITY network had charged a flat fee of £8 for all charging sessions, regardless of how much electricity drivers consumed. However, since January 2020, customers without contracts have been charged an ad-hoc rate; as of June 2023, this stands at 74p per kWh. Those who access the network through manufacturer contracts from the likes of Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Porsche get a cheaper rate, however.
If you’re someone who covers long distances frequently and are therefore more prone to using rapid points to top your electric vehicle, you can sign up for an ‘IONITY Passport’ for £10.99 per month. Those who sign up for the annual subscription pay just 56p per kWh when recharging from one of IONITY’s units.
Energy company Octopus provides the electricity for every IONITY charger in the UK. The firm promises "100% renewable energy", giving drivers "peace of mind" regarding their impact on the environment.
The IONITY network in Europe
In November 2021, it was announced the IONITY network is set to include nearly 7,000 points spread over 1,000 locations by 2025 thanks to a €700 million investment – at the time of writing, there's already around 500 charging locations across the continent, with a total of roughly 2,500 chargers. The firm plans to feature between six and 12 points at each new site it opens, while more charging points will be added to its busier existing locations.
As part of the network expansion, IONITY is also planning to build its own service stations – like Gridserve’s 'Electric Forecourts'. CEO Michael Hajesch has unveiled a concept for these, called OASIS (picture above). However, there’s been no word yet on where these stations will be located, or when the first will open.
In 2021, IONITY added ‘Plug and Charge’ functionality to all of its chargers in Europe, with the aim of simplifying the charging process. Instead of getting out your credit or debit card, IONITY chargers are now able to automatically recognise electric cars registered with the scheme once they’re connected. The system uses digital certificate authentication to verify the information, and to protect your payment information.
Drivers are only charged for the electricity used once the charging cable has been disconnected, with the billing process also being automated. The list of electric cars compatible with the Plug and Charge service includes the Porsche Taycan, Mercedes EQS and Ford Mustang Mach-E.
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