German carmaker Volkswagen has been among the leaders of the green car race with its BlueMotion vehicles and the forthcoming introduction of the Blue E-Motion Golf electric car (also known as the e-Golf, pictured): and now it has revealed part of its electrification strategy for the near future.
Speaking to journalists at the VW Electronics Research Laboratory in Belmont, California, Volkswagen executives spoke about VW’s Strategie 18: where it hopes to surpass Toyota’s worldwide vehicle sales after selling 9.07million vehicles compared to Toyota’s 9.7million during 2012. Assuming 10million vehicles were sold per year in 2018, Volkswagen believes it would have to sell around 300,000 plug-in vehicles to meet this milestone.
Part of this strategy is plug-in charging, with the gathering marking the introduction of Eaton’s quick charger. It has a maximum output of 50kW and is equipped with the new SAE J1772 combined charging system for both AC and DC charging: with Volkswagen and Eaton both declaring they will support the CHAdeMO standard if it prevails. According to Eaton, it would not be difficult to equip the DC charger with connectors for either standard.
According to Rudolf Krebs, the head of the electric powertrain division at Volkswagen, plug-in charging will develop at four levels: single-phase AC; fast three-phase AC in Europe; DC charging up to 20kW; and DC charging up to 86kW. With three-phase AC already readily available, he believes that DC charging will also be available for Volkswagen’s electric cars, although not for its plug-in hybrid cars for which usage patterns render them unnecessary.
In addition, Krebs spoke about battery development and stated that without a revolutionary breakthrough, lithium-ion battery technology is likely to double its capacity through an evolutionary process. He cited the company’s partnership with Johnson Controls-owned Varta as helping it to reduce battery cost.
He then spoke of a broader electrification strategy and outlined that to achieve a 90 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Volkswagen would need to reduce CO2 emissions by 20g/km per vehicle. He believes the gap can only be closed with electrification: but this will only be achieved in regions with relatively clean power generation profiles. In particular, he pointed out that China’s push to boost plug-in vehicle production and sales will not help in terms of CO2 and climate change.
Krebs stated that he does not know how many plug-in vehicles Volkswagen can sell – he suggests it will not be a mass market at first and there is a need to make electromobility “fascinating”. With present range limitations, electric cars will remain a “second or third” household vehicle, he believes.