Green Car Congress Volkswagen Group talks EV charging standards …

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Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion

21 January 2013

One of approximately twenty VW Golf blue e-motion prototypes under test in the United States, with Eaton’s 50kW DC Quick Charger, at Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Laboratory, near San Francisco. Click to enlarge.

Earlier this month, Volkswagen and Eaton executives met with a small group of journalists at the VW Electronics Research Laboratory in Belmont, California, to discuss VW’s partnership with Eaton on AC and DC charging, followed by a broader conversation about VW’s plans for vehicle electrification over the next several years. Topics included the upcoming introduction of the blue e-motion Golf electric vehicle, sometimes called the e-Golf, near the end of 2013 (early 2014 for the US market), as well as Volkswagen’s goal of achieving 3% of its global sales through plug-in vehicles by 2018.

That goal is part of VW’s overarching Strategie 18, in which the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer hopes to trump Toyota in global sales by the same year. Volkswagen sold 9.07 million vehicles in 2012 to Toyota’s 9.7 million; assuming 10 million vehicles sold per year in 2018, VW would need to move 300,000 plug-in vehicles per year to meet their mark.

Plug-in Charging. The gathering marked the introduction of Eaton’s DC quick charger (link ), one of which is now installed at ERL. The charger has a maximum output of 50 kW, and is constructed using 10 kW modules, or “power drawers”, to allow for expansion: for example, a customer can specify a 20 kW charger, and scale up later to 30, 40, or 50kW as needed.

Although the Eaton charger at ERL is equipped with the new SAE J1772 Combined Charging System (CCS) for AC or DC charging (earlier post ), and Volkswagen supports the new standard, both Eaton and VW said that they will support CHAdeMO if that standard prevails, particularly in the Japanese market. Eaton’s John Wirtz confirmed “ it would not be difficult ” to equip their DC charger with charge connectors for either standard, or with charging cables for both standards, if desired.

Volkswagen’s Rudolf Krebs, who heads VW’s electric powertrain division, further explained that VW sees plug-in charging as evolving toward four levels:

single-phase AC;

fast three-phase AC (in Europe);

Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion

DC charging of up to 20kW; and

public DC charging of up to 86 kW.

Three-phase AC is readily available in many parts of Europe, and is used in those areas to power high-demand appliances. DC quick charging will be available for VW’s battery electric vehicles, but not for their plug-in hybrids: PHEV usage patterns, in the company’s opinion, renders DC charging “unnecessary”.

This sentiment echoes the position taken by General Motors; in a previous interview, GM’s Larry Nitz, Executive Director of Hybrid and Electric Powertrain Engineering, observed that around half of all Volt users use only Level 1 (110V AC, standard wall receptacle) charging equipment to charge their vehicles, eschewing Level 2 (240V AC) chargers altogether.

Volkswagen also expects plug-in hybrids to coalesce around an all-electric range of 35 miles in the United States, as well as a slightly shorter 50 km (31 miles) range in other markets, spurred by governmental policies, including expected policy in China.

Which charging standard will prevail?

Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion
Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion
Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion

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