Volkswagen to begin testing portable EV charging stations

(December 30, 2018) Creating a new era of mobile charging, Volkswagen has just announced its intentions to bring to market a "power bank," a standalone independent power source with up to 360 kWh of total battery storage capacity. Volkswagen likens the concept to the "power banks" used to charge phones and smart devices on the go — just on a much larger scale. 

According to VW, the boxes are based on the battery pack from the company's Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB). Because of this, the boxes can easily be scaled up or down and can reuse old batteries from EVs that are no longer functioning up to par.

VW says that the mobile charging station could find use in public parking lots, company bays or as a temporary installation as large events like concerts or exhibitions. And the first units could roll out as soon as the first half of next year as part of a pilot project in the company's home town of Wolfsburg in Germany. If the pilot proves a success, the charging station will be installed in other cities and communities starting in 2020.

"The mobile charging stations are a decisive step toward an efficient network of charging points," said VW's Thomas Schmall. "They can be set up anywhere as required — with or without connection to the power supply.

"This flexibility enables a completely new approach for the rapid expansion of the charging infrastructure. Cities can, for example, find out the most suitable places for a permanent charging point before making major investments in developing the network. In addition, it will be possible to set up a large number of charging stations temporarily – exactly when and where they are needed."

VW has not released the technical features of the battery pack, but it says the mobile towers will be equipped with up to 360 kWh of storage, enough to service 15 vehicles. Four cars can charge at the same time on the box, but only two can connect via DC, while the other two use AC. Using DC, the unit can quick charge up to 100 kW. VW says average charging time is about 17 minutes, but it does not specify to what level that time period charges the cars.

Should an access point be available, the box can also plug directly into the grid. This would allow constant recharging of up to 30 kW through alternating current and essentially create four charging points.

The first mobile quick charging stations will be set up as early as the first half of 2019 in Volkswagen’s hometown as part of a pilot project, and will support the expansion of a charging infrastructure in the urban area.

“Our mobile charging stations offer a further crucial advantage,” said Mark Möller, head of Technical Development at Volkswagen Group Components. “It is only when an electric car is charged with sustainably generated power that it can claim CO2-neutral mobility. Our charging station is the first to offer the possibility of temporarily storing sustainably generated power.”

For example, the charging station can be charged specifically with solar or wind energy, which is then transmitted to the electric vehicles during charging.

Volkswagen says an efficient network of charging points is regarded as one of the basic infrastructural prerequisites for convincing customers to buy electric vehicles such as the Volkswagen brand’s future I.D. family. Accomplishing this is one of the major challenges Volkswagen Group Components and others must tackle to ensure the breakthrough of e-mobility.

As of Jan. 1, the Components division is an independent business unit within the Volkswagen Group. The mobile charging station is an in-house development with the goal of developing a closed life cycle for the battery.

Sources: Volkswagen, news outlets