Electric Vehicles

Volkswagen opens 50-space EV charging station but you can't use it

The Arizona proving grounds serves as a research hub for Volkswagen Group brands, including Porsche.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen has opened one of the most extensive electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in North America, but you, Joe Public, can't use it. That's right. The facility, at the company's 1,600-acre Arizona Proving Grounds in Maricopa, Arizona, is reserved for VW's research and development teams.

It's one of two worldwide for the company and was deigned to test battery and charging performance under extreme hot-weather conditions. It will allow the charging of EVs in weather conditions up to 120 degrees (but it's a dry heat).

Chargers Volkswagen proving grounds Arizona There are chargers from a number of companies on site.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The 50-space station features 25 DC fast chargers, with variable power outputs from the most commonly used charger power today at 50 kilowatts up to 350kW, can charge properly equipped EVs at speeds up to 20 miles per minute.

There's also 10 Level 2 AC chargers that will be used to simulate typical, home-based charging. These chargers will utilize charge plugs from the three standard connector types: U.S. (CCS1), Europe (CCS2) and China (GB-T).

Volkswagen has plans to install pads to study inductive charging in the future.

All charging equipment comes from different global brands. It was developed in partnership with Electrify America. In a statement, Volkswagen said, "Parallel to the testing of electric vehicles at the EV station, the performance of the charging equipment is tested under these extreme-heat conditions to help improve the performance of the chargers for consumers."

Chargers Volkswagen proving grounds Arizona The infrastructure allows for a variety of types of testing.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Of the 50 spots, 16 are located under a remote-controlled canopy, which uses awnings to simulate full sun and shaded conditions.

There are also safety measures in place including a battery temperature monitoring system, developed in-house, that Volkswagen says is the basis of the world's first battery cooling system designed to prevent overheating damage in a serious emergency. A small building in the middle of the charging station allows engineers and test drivers to evaluate all testing data without having to endure the extreme heat themselves.

The charging station, along with the related support infrastructure, cost an estimated $9 million. Construction began in early 2019 and was completed in February 2020. The station received its final certification this month.

Chargers Volkswagen proving grounds Arizona Volkswagen has announced plans for an electrified model infusion into its lineup.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Research at the site will support Volkswagen Group products worldwide including the Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, and Volkswagen brands.

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Discontinued sedan

Volkswagen nixing Passat after 2022 model year

Racing Green Metallic is one of four exclusive colors for the car.

Volkswagen

After five decades on sale in the U.S., Volkswagen is pulling the plug on the midsize Passat. The explosion of SUVs' popularity and the need to shift production power to electric vehicles are behind the decision, which will take place after the 2022 model year. The cars have been built at the automaker's Chattanooga, TN plant since 2011, but the facility is being repurposed as VW's North American hub for electric vehicle assembly.

Volkswagen is giving the car one last hurrah, however, in the form of the Passat Limited Edition. The car features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with an Advanced Front Lighting System, and an easy-open trunk. Inside, the cars come with sport seats wrapped in Vienna leather, memory seating, a Fender Premium Audio System, parking assistance, and parking sensors.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition Each car gets a special model tag with its limited production number.Volkswagen


Only 1,973 of the cars will be built, and it will only be sold in four colors, each with its own limited production numbers that have special meaning for the Passat:

  • Aurora Red Metallic with Titan Black interior: 411 units to represent the original vehicle production code
  • Racing Green Metallic with Mauro Brown interior: 423 units to commemorate the Chattanooga 423 area code
  • Pure white with Mauro Brown interior: 524 units to signify the Chattanooga plant's May 24 opening date
  • Platinum Great Metallic with Titan Black interior: 615 units to signify six generations of imported Passats, one generation assembled in Chattanooga, and five decades of U.S. sales

Pricing for the 2022 Passat starts at $31,290, which includes a $995 destination fee. Adding Aurora Red Metallic drives the price up by an additional $395. Each car will receive a special number plate to designate its place in the limited production run.


2022 Volkswagen Passat Limited Edition The Passat Limited Edition gets several upscale features. Volkswagen

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Electric vehicle features

The VW ID.4 sounds futuristic

The ID.4 is VW's first electric crossover in the U.S.

VW

The Volkswagen ID.4 is finally here. The electric crossover offers compelling features, decent all-electric range, and a reasonable price. On top of all that, Volkswagen focused heavily on the electric experience with the ID.4, down to the sounds it makes in everyday operation.

Where many automakers seek to humanize electric vehicles with familiar gas engine sounds, Volkswagen hasn't bothered with any of that. Instead, the automaker's ID.4 electric crossover features several sounds that embrace the EV's place in the future of transportation.

On startup, drivers are greeted with a sound that Volkswagen says will alert them that the vehicle is ready to go. It's not at all unlike the flying saucer sounds heard in sci-fi movies decades ago, but it's a nice reminder of the ID.4's future-forward drivetrain.



In motion, VW gave the ID.4 what is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System, which helps alert people to the presence of a moving electric vehicle. Since the drivetrain doesn't make the same noises that a gas engine does, EVs can move almost silently at low speeds, so it's important to have some kind of warning sound.

Even the turn signal sounds received scrutiny in the ID.4's design, and while they're still fairly traditional, the sounds are subtle and pleasing overall. Beyond that, VW says it developed a library of sounds for typical vehicle control buttons and other functions that are exclusive to its electric vehicles. The goal, according to the automaker, is that the sound aligns with the vehicles' character, visual design, and features, and that people will be able to recognize a VW EV by its unique sound.

The ID.4 is just the first of several EVs that Volkswagen plans to release here in the United States. Larger family vehicles are on the horizon, and we may even see an electric revival of the legendary VW bus.

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