Electric Cars

Volkswagen reveals mobile fast-charger for electric cars

The system would reuse old EV batteries to store energy.

Volkswagen mobile charger sketch

A sketch of what the mobile charge points might look like.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen plans to launch what is essentially a supersized version of the portable power bank you use for your phone, but scaled up to charge electric cars. The charging stations would be mobile and wouldn't necessarily need to be plugged into the electrical grid, but can store enough power to charge as many as 15 electric cars.

The mobile charging stations are designed so they can be easily deployed anywhere, without necessarily adding the extra wiring to connect them to the grid. Volkswagen says that means the chargers could easily be setup in, say, public parking lots or temporarily during "large-scale events," like sports games. 

The chargers could also be installed on a temporary basis to see whether they proved popular enough to merit the investment to fully connect them. The charger has 360 kilowatt-hours of energy storage built into it and can fast-charge vehicles at up to 100 kilowatts. That matches up with the forthcoming VW I.D. family of EVs, which will have the ability to charge at 100 kW.

The charging stations can also be plugged into a power grid, in which case it will continually recharge itself. That recharging could be timed only to use off-peak times or to only use renewably produced energy, VW says. When charged, the stations can support charging up to four vehicles at a time, and will support e-bikes as well as cars. Using the aforementioned 100-kW DC fast-charging, VW says one of its I.D. family cars could be charged in as little as 17 minutes.

The charging stations also serve as a way for Volkswagen to give a second life to the lithium-ion battery packs that will be used in the I.D. family electric cars. When the packs lose too much capacity to be used in cars, they can be repurposed to instead store energy in these mobile charging points. The chargers will launch in Volkswagen's home of Wolfsburg, Germany, in a limited pilot program this year, with full production of the mobile units set to begin in 2020.