Analysis
2 Jan 20

VW unveils autonomous charger for EVs and steps up electrification plans

A new autonomous charger for electric vehicles highlights the degree of innovation that manufacturers are deploying to make the switch to battery power as easy as possible for vehicle owners.

Volkswagen Group Components’ mobile charging robot is capable of driving itself to the vehicle that needs charging, opening the charging socket flap, connecting the plug and decoupling at the end of the charge.

The robot is still at concept stage, and shows how OEMs are developing smarter solutions than simply waiting for every car parking space, whether at a business workplace or in a public car park, to have its own charger.

Overcoming infrastructure challenge

VW’s idea is to bring the charging infrastructure to the car and not the other way around. The self-driving robots will tow power packs capable of 50kW charging to any vehicles that need power; one robot would be capable of plugging in one vehicle after another and leaving them to charge. Once the vehicle batteries are recharged, the robot tows the power packs (VW calls them mobile energy storage devices) back to their own charging station.

Mark Möller, Head of Development at Volkswagen Group Components, said: “With this, we are making almost every car park electric, without any complex individual infrastructural measures. The constructional work as well as the costs for the assembly of the charging infrastructure can be reduced considerably through the use of the robots.”

He added that the robots, summoned via app or V2X communication, could become a reality ‘quite quickly’ if the general conditions are right.

VW accelerates EV plans

The unveiling of the concept coincides with Volkswagen accelerating its forecasts for electric vehicle production. In December 2019 the manufacturer celebrated the sale of its 250,000th electric or hybrid car, having sold its first e-up! in 2013. VW sold 70,000 electrified vehicles in 2019 (out of total sales of about 6million cars), compared to 50,000 in 2018. It now forecasts that it will produce 1 million electric cars in 2023, reaching the milestone two years early than it previously predicted, and rising to 1.5 million in 2025.

Deliveries of VW’s ID.3 (pictured above) will start this summer, with 37,000 advance orders already placed for the zero emission car, capable of a range of 330 to 550 kilometres and carrying a price tag of less than €30,000.

Jürgen Stackmann, VW Board Member for Sales, Marketing and After Sales, said: “We are convinced that the future is electric.”

Authored by: Jonathan Manning
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