Volkswagen has an interesting solution to the dilemma of owning an electric vehicle without a permanent place to charge it: they’ll bring the charging station to you.
The German automaker offered a glimpse of its new mobile charging strategy last week, which envisions mobile charging units that can be delivered directly to electric cars in need of power, rather than frazzled EV owners having to use their last bit of juice to find the closest charging station. These portable DC charging stations could be perfect for owners who, for example, live in cities, park their cars on the street, or lack a garage where they can charge their EVs overnight. It’s a helpful strategy that could go a long way toward making EV ownership in big cities work.
These mobile power banks can be set up in a shopping center parking lot, for example, where they can provide power to electric companies while running entirely with onboard batteries. Up to 15 EVs can be charged at one station, which has a capacity of 360 kWh. And VW says that thanks to quick charging capabilities, each vehicle will only take an average of 17 minutes to charge.
If the energy of the integrated battery set falls below 20 percent, the depleted charging station is simply exchanged for a charged one. But if the mobile unit is permanently attached to the power supply with up to 30 kW via alternating current, the battery pack “perpetually recharges itself,” the automaker says in a news release.
“In case the charging process is based on renewable power supply, the charging station furthermore allows the temporary storage of sustainably generated power, such as solar or wind energy – and therefore CO2-neutral mobility,” according to VW.
VW has been more bullish on EV charging than other legacy car companies. It plans to spend $2 billion over the next few years building up a global EV charging infrastructure, both to compete with Tesla’s Supercharger network and also as part of its settlement agreement post-Dieselgate.
Electric cars hit a new global sales record in 2017 — 1 million cars sold, with more than half of that in China — but building out an adequate number of charging stations to power all these vehicles could be a hitch to mass adoption. VW’s mobile charging strategy could be an important bridge to getting more people to buy EVs while the charging infrastructure is under construction.
The first stations will debut in Wolfsburg, Germany, during the first half of this year. No word on whether VW plans to bring these traveling batteries stateside.