Volkswagen Group has announced plans for a large, mobile electric vehicle charging station that can top up a battery in just 17 minutes and be placed in locations where a lack of charging infrastructure is an impediment to EV ownership.
“The idea here isn’t to constantly move the things hither and yon, but to plop them in places that don’t yet have robust charging infrastructure, as a sort of stopgap,” Wired reports. “This should be exciting news for anyone who doesn’t have consistent access to an outlet, like many apartment dwellers or those who park on the street. The stations can either be connected to the grid, without major upfront infrastructure costs, or carted away and recharged remotely once they’re depleted.”
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An added feature is that “this quick-charging battery station is big,” the publication notes. “It can hold up to 360 kWh, nearly five times the capacity of a base-level Tesla Model S.” VW plans to introduce the device in the first half of this year in its hometown of Wolfsburg, Germany, then elsewhere beginning in 2020.
“This is probably more expensive than just having a charging station, but this concept of ‘mobile charging’ might induce some folks to become EV buyers who are worried about a place to plug in,” said Carnegie Mellon University civil and environmental engineering professor Costa Samaras. But it’s still a stopgap, he added: “Ultimately, the problem will have to be solved with both widespread public charging and battery improvements that increase the range between charges.”
Wired traces mobile EV charging back to at least 2010, when a Swiss energy storage and load management company introduced a mobile charger mounted on a Hummer. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has offered limited emergency charging for nearly a decade, and San Leandro, California-based FreeWire Technologies recently raised US$15 million in new investment for its mobile charging products.