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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Toyota's ready to make a big announcement.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation2

Auto Shanghai has another surprise in store. Toyota will debut an electrified vehicle next week and ahead of that moment, the company has leaked teaser photos and video featuring the model on its social media channels.

One of the posts, available on Twitter and Instagram, showcases the vehicle and a series of conceptual, perhaps inspirational, related items. A light shines as a reflection in an eye. A design on paper leads to a math equation. A laser, perhaps a plasma cutter, is focused on an object. Watch the see the rest.


It passes by quickly, but in there is the shape of a crossover. We've captured the moment in a still photo below so you can take a longer look. From the body design quickly shown here, the SUV is shaped more like the Toyota Venza than the Toyota RAV4. The key here is the rear side window, which is more triangular, like the Venza, than the squared-off RAV4''s.

202 The shape of the vehicle is similar to the Toyota Venza.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

2022 Toyota Venza EV

The face of the vehicle, shown in another social media post (this time on Instagram) and at the top of this article, shows a pared back vehicle face. The height of the vehicle confirms that it's in fact a crossover body style.

We do know that Subaru and Toyota have been working on an electric SUV for a while. While Subaru is likely calling the vehicle "Evoltis" there's some indication that Toyota may be reviving the "Celica" name for the EV. Batteries, after all, are made up of cells.

As of right now, we have to take the wait-and-see approach. One thing's for sure. We'll know more next week.

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The 2022 Lexus ES will debut next week.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The meat and potatoes of the Lexus sedan lineup, the ES, is due for a refresh, and it will get one. The 2022 Lexus ES will be shown publicly for the first time this Sunday as part of the festivities of the Shanghai auto show.

While the photo doesn't tell a lot, there's some things you can bet on in the 2022 ES. For starters, look for all the improvements that the auto has gotten over the last two years to carry over into the new model. That includes the addition of all-wheel drive to the lineup and standard blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

The ES Black Line may not make its way to the 2022 version of the midsize sedan. Generally, blacked out editions are available only at the tail end of a model run ahead of a refresh or generational redesign. However, the blacked out elements could become available as part of a package.

The headlight photo that Lexus has offered as a teaser shows a housing that is not dissimilar to the one that the Lexus IS wears. However, the daytime running light is on the bottom here, instead off the top. Like the IS, there are strong hood lines.

At the back, the preview video shows a vehicle that is very similar to the current model. It's taillights, a strong chrome line that runs the width of the year, and rear lip spoiler all look mostly same as before.

As for what to expect underneath the body of the car, there's not a lot of indication from the teasers, which leads one to believe that's where the biggest changes are coming. There's a good chance that we'll finally say goodbye to the Lexus touch pad in favor of a touch screen display that's within a comfortable distance.

It's also likely that Lexus will fine tune the dynamics of the ES in a similar fashion to how the Lexus IS got more performance-focused driving dynamics in its latest redo.

Stay tuned for more specifics are the curtain is pulled back on April 19 in China (April 18 in the U.S.).

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