A charging experience that’s equally electrifying

BMW. Mercedes-Benz. Audi. Porsche. Volkswagen. Ford. Together, these names are behind some of the most memorable creations on four wheels. So when they got together to establish a pan-European fast-charging network, the result was destined to be as iconic as their cars.

Award-winning product design creates a unique charging experience

A blueprint for zero footprint

While electric vehicles aim to eliminate their CO2 footprint, we wanted to leave a lasting impression. After all, we weren’t just creating a charging network for e-mobility. We were designing tomorrow. Hence we partnered up with BMW Designworks, a leading design consultancy studio, that has, for almost 50 years, shaped some of the most iconic automotive and urban mobility solutions. Their innovative and future-friendly design aesthetics made them a natural choice in our quest to create something distinctive, yet instinctive.

Designing a legacy

Anyone can build a box with a cable hanging out of it. But our brief was more ambitious: to design a high-capacity charging station architecture, charger pylons and digital interaction concept that would be unique, simple and an attractive experience for everyone, everywhere. That’s a tall task but exactly the kind that excites the creative forces of the BMW Designworks team. As their creative director, Tobias Adami, admits “Unlike fashion trends, charging stations don’t just come and go. Hence this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something not just for today, but forever. Something iconic that must leave its mark for years to come.”

The IONITY charger plug and user interface
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something not just for today, but forever. Something iconic that must leave its mark for years to come."

Tobias Adami

Form is the function

As the team set out to answer the brief, they realised the task was three-fold. The first was to let the product reflect customer benefits of quality, simplicity and service. Then came the technological challenge of making the hardware robust enough to handle high-capacity charging. Lastly, the design also had to convey the invisible act of electric charging into a seamless visceral experience. But while it was tempting to let design become a purely aesthetic signature, there was yet a fourth challenge that the team discovered.

Turning chargers into landmarks

Imagine it’s night. You’ve been driving for hours with a few more to go. As you hurry along at motorway speeds, a face pops up that is immediately familiar, reassuring and unmistakably what you were looking for - a sign that tells you it’s time for a quick break and a quicker top-up. This instant visual recognition became the overarching aim of the design team as they started shaping the IONITY expression. But what could that brand beacon be?

A floating halo of light

The answer was the halo, perhaps the most crucial design element in the IONITY experience. A square crown sitting above the charging pylon, the halo is more than just a welcome sign or a digital ornament - it’s a sophisticated piece of hardware that communicates with the user, conveying the charging status with a pulsating light that shifts from white to purple. Inviting, exciting and purposeful, this halo is where the IONITY experience flows from. And fittingly, it sits right on top.

A design language that needs no translation

The sophistication of the IONITY digital interface design lies in its intuitive and user- friendly approach. While the main display simply, yet efficiently, lays out all the relevant charging information, there is a clever alternative for those who’re only interested in the big picture. On the side of the charger is a smart display disguised as a simple, minimalistic light stripe. It shows the current status of the charging progress which can be simply glanced over from a distance, thus contributing to an overall lean interface. It’s not just smart design, it’s human.

Not just futuristic, but future-proof

Every design decision that went into creating our chargers and stations was meant to make IONITY safe, dependable and ready for tomorrow. That meant delivering high capacity 350kW charging through a user-friendly experience for everyone. So no matter which vehicle you drive, or plan to drive in the near future, the ever- growing IONITY charging network will always be the safest, quickest and most attractive option to top-up your vehicle battery on the highway.

Fetching compliments, and awards

Driving electric vehicles may be silent, but charging them can still generate an audible applause. Among the many accolades we’ve received is the Gold Medal / Product Design category in the prestigious 2019 iF World Design Guide Awards. As the award jury so eloquently rounds up its praise: “The IONITY electric charger is a highly aesthetic answer to one of the key issues of e-mobility: long distance travelling. It makes e-mobility a true alternative to conventional mobility outside of cities with its capacity of up to 350 KW and very short charging periods en route. Very clever!"  You can read more at the official award website, here.

Electric mobility is the champion of many themes. EVs are greener, cleaner, fun to drive and with one foot placed firmly in the future. But the eye-catching IONITY design language takes this electric revolution one step further. It translates high-end technology into common culture.

IONITY’s CEO Michael Hajesch (3rd from left) and Head of Marketing & Brand, Frank Plaschka (2nd from left) together with BMW Designworks accepting the Gold award at the iF Design awards ceremony