As part of its drive to offer more electrification in its fleet, in addition to the creation of the fully-electric I.D. model range, Volkswagen is creating a charging and energy ecosystem in the form of hardware and software to make EV charging convenient for commuters and faster for long-distance drivers.
It starts with the base belief that most I.D. owners won’t need to charge their vehicles more than once a week, since research has shown that the majority of commuters drive their vehicles fewer than 50 km per day.
When charging is needed, further research shows about half of all charging takes place at home, and 20% takes place at work. Volkswagen is therefore creating a series of chargers to give owners the option of charging with alternating current (AC) at home or work at nearly four times the speed of using standard household current (i.e., just plugging it into a standard power outlet), direct current (DC) at double that speed and in a bidirectional manner (meaning it can supply electricity back to the grid), and an ultra-fast charger for public quick charges (estimated to account for 35% of charging, 5% of which will be a highway way stations), where a full charge (about 550 km of range) can be obtained in about a half hour.
An interesting development on the home charger front, is a “smart” charger that will not only allow owners to charge the vehicle during off-peak periods when electricity is less expensive, but also store surplus energy in home batteries during those periods to use as needed by the household during peak periods. It will also allow owners to receive only as much energy as needed by estimating the range of travel needed for the following day. And, in the event of a power outage, the home will draw from the vehicle’s electricity stores.
When fully implemented, the energy charging and storage solutions are expected to raise the demand on the current electricity grid by only 0.5%, allaying one of the voiced concerns of many EV critics.
In Europe, VW has partnered with BMW, Daimler and Ford to create Ionity — a reliable network of 400 quick-charging stations along highways, expected to be fully operational by 2020. The company is also equipping its 4,000 dealerships across Europe with onsite charging stations, and expanding its facility charging stations from 1,000 to 5,000. Both initiatives are also expected to be fully implemented by 2020.
Volkswagen is also developing the “WE” mobility platform to provide EV owners all the information they need about their EVs’ battery levels, expected driving ranges and most suitable charging points. The “We Charge” functionality will roll out across the European market, allowing Volkswagen’s EV owners to charge their vehicles across Europe at any of the estimated 55,000 stations, regardless of the electricity provider, and pay through smartphone mobile app. In the future, the company expects to make billing and payment directly through the fully-connected I.D. vehicle.