German car manufacturers, along with Ford, are to open some 400 electric car charging points in Europe within the next three years. It comes as Toyota in Ireland launches a new scrappage scheme for diesel owners to switch to petrol or hybrid cars.

BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen Group (including Skoda, Audi and SEAT), along with Ford, will open the electric vehicle charging stations this year and plans a pan-European network of 400 by 2020, hoping to narrow Tesla’s lead, Reuters reports.

News about the initiative, first flagged a year ago, had been long anticipated as governments push for improvements in infrastructure that would encourage drivers to switch to electric cars.

The manufacturers' group (IONITY) plans to open 20 stations to the public this year in Germany, Norway and Austria. They will be 120 km (75 miles) apart.  As of now, Ireland and the UK are expected to get stations included in the programme but not for some time. 

"The first pan-European HPC network plays an essential role in establishing a market for electric vehicles," IONITY’s CEO Michael Hajesch said on Friday. He added that the fast-charging stations would also offer digital-payment capability.

IONITY is still in talks with charging station suppliers and a decision is expected soon, a spokeswoman said, declining to say how much the joint venture would invest.

Cars like Min's electric concept car will be one of the vehicles to benefit from the network.

Installing thousands of High-Power Charging (HPC) stations across the globe will require billions of dollars in investment and offer an opportunity to manufacturers. The car consortium’s new fast chargers will cost about 200,000 euros each.

IONITY will expand its network to 100 stations in 2018, each one enabling several drivers of different car brands to charge their vehicles at the same time.

Anxiety over whether battery-powered cars have the range to reach their destination is inhibiting some drivers from switching from petrol or diesel models.

But with U.S. all-electric challenger Tesla stealing a lead, established brands are teaming up to ensure that electric vehicles (EVs) can get quickly back on the road.

Each charging point will have a capacity of 350 kW, and will use an existing European standard, the Combined Charging System, to reduce charging times compared to existing systems.

A half-hour charge will give a Tesla driver about 270 km in extra driving range - roughly half the time it would take to get a similar boost at a 50 kW charge point that is now the industry standard.

Toyota says hybrid cars will be worth 6% more than diesel cars after three years of average motoring.

In the meantime, Toyota Ireland has launched a new diesel scrappage scheme aimed at owners of diesel cars over eight years old. The company has launched a website - dieselscrappage.ie - that allows owners of these cars to enter their registration number and see what it costs to run their older car as against the cost of a petrol or hybrid.

Toyota says its analysis of the future value of cars shows that a hybrid car will retain 43% of its value after three years of average motoring, petrol will retain 39% of its value and diesel will retain 37%. This would give a hybrid car a 6% advantage over a diesel car in terms of future value.

Already, those involved in a assessing the future value of cars are struggling to value diesel cars values over the next three to five years, as changes in buying habits and anti-diesel sentiment take firm root in Ireland and across Europe. Many customers are also concerned about the future value of diesel cars.

Michael Gaynor, Marketing Director at Toyota says:  "We see the market at a tipping point where a move out of diesel accelerates as people want to protect the future resale value of their vehicle though buying a hybrid or petrol. It’s why Toyota Financial Services, our new financial services partner, has revised downwards its Guaranteed Future Value (GFV) on diesel vehicles and increased the GFV on hybrids,  so the gap is now 6% in favour of hybrids".