Electric Vehicles

Volkswagen's mobile charging robot makes EV power refills an autonomous operation

Volkswagen's mobile charging robot is designed to work autonomously.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure is one of the biggest pain points for potential EV buyers. It's not just the time it takes to fuel up the car, it's where the filling station is located. Volkswagen has come up with a concept that removes some of those obstacles.

The mobile charging robot is an invention that comes out of the Volkswagen Group Components division. It is tasked with "fully autonomous charging of vehicles in restricted parking areas", which includes parking garages.

Volkswagen mobile charging robot The robot is designed to charge multiple vehicles in a row before itself needing a recharge.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"A ubiquitous charging infrastructure is, and remains, a key factor in the success of electric mobility. Our charging robot is just one of several approaches, but is undoubtedly one of the most visionary," explains Thomas Schmall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components.

The concept isn't just a far-out vision of the future. Volkswagen hopes to implement it, alongside other charging concepts in the near future - "over the next few years".

Here's how it works. The autonomous charging robot is started via an app of Car-to-X communication. Everything from the charging socket flap to connecting the plug and decoupling it are done without human intervention. It's nearly as sophisticated an operation as the Space X Dragon capsule docking the International Space Station. Check out the video below to see it in action.

Volkswagens Mobile Charging Robot – vision becomes reality www.youtube.com

Ideally, the robot would be able to charge several vehicles in a row before moving back to a central charging station.

"Setting up an efficient charging infrastructure for the future is a central task that challenges the entire sector," says Schmall. "We are developing solutions to help avoid costly stand-alone measures. The mobile charging robot and our flexible quick-charging station are just two of these solutions."

Volkswagen's flexible quick-charging station will be launched onto the market in early 2021. The robot has been prototyped and is now undergoing further development. Before the robot can go to market, vehicles must be able to deliver and receive Car-to-X communication.

Volkswagen isn't stopping there. "Our developments do not just focus on customers' needs and the technical prerequisites of electric vehicles, says Schmall. "They also consider the economic possibilities they offer potential partners." They enable the operators of parking structures to quickly and simply "electrify" every parking space by utilizing the mobile charging robot. This reduces any construction work needed, at the same time reducing the potential cost.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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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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