The issues of charging and energy lie at the heart of electric mobility. The more easily the battery of an electric vehicle can be supplied with energy, and the more public and private charging stations are available, the faster the switch will be.
With We Charge, Volkswagen offers a system for a relaxed approach to charging electric vehicles of the brand – at home with the networked wall box and on the road at over 200 000 public charging points in Europe. Over 500 DC fast charging points with Combined Charging System (CCS) connectors and more than 6000 AC charging points can be accessed easily in Switzerland using the app and integrated map.
One contract, one card, one access. The e-tron Charging Service from Audi is that simple, allowing the vehicle to be charged at almost 240 000 charging stations in 25 European countries. Whether in a city centre or on the motorway, the e-tron Charging Service provides fast and convenient access to charging stations everywhere. The network of high-power charging stations for use while out and about is continuously being expanded, and stations in other European countries can be used for local prices with no additional charges.
The Powerpass card enables access to most public charging providers for ŠKODA drivers, allowing them to charge their vehicles almost everywhere. In addition, all charging data and payments are also displayed conveniently in a single app. The Powerpass has been available since the launch of the first ENYAQ iV, and also enables access to the IONITY fast charging network. Powerpass is provided by Elli, part of Volkswagen Group Charging GmbH.
In order to make electric mobility convenient for long-distance journeys and thus suitable for large-scale use, IONITY, a company co-founded by Volkswagen, is building up a network of fast, or high-power charging stations (HPCs) in Europe. It offers charging capacity of up to 350 kW. Around 350 stations are already available throughout Europe, each with between two and 12 charging points, the majority of which are located at motorway service areas. The current goal is to reach a figure of 400 charging stations provided using electricity from 100% renewable sources. A break of normal length at the service area is more or less enough time for a vehicle battery to be recharged.
With this undertaking, Volkswagen is pursuing the same goal as the other providers – to facilitate straightforward charging anytime and anywhere. Soon, drivers of electric vehicles will no longer need to think about the reachability of the next charging station or the range of their vehicle. Volkswagen is making electric cars suitable for a variety of everyday uses, bringing electric mobility out of its niche and making it the mass technology of the future.
Elli, short for “electric life”, aims to make life with electricity simple, reliable and completely worry-free – out and about, at home and in power generation. The approach places a particular focus on intelligent solutions, practicability, safety and the environment. Elli is part of the Volkswagen Group and develops solutions for both private individuals and companies at the diverse interfaces of electric mobility and the energy transition
While the wide range of connector types may appear confusing at first glance, a closer look soon reveals that there are simply different systems for at home and on the move. Those charging at home, regardless of how they do so, must have a residual-current device that has been installed by an expert.
For at home:
For thermal reasons, household sockets (Type 13) are not suitable for continuous operation over several hours and with high currents. Regular charging of electric car batteries using a household socket is therefore not recommended. In addition, a fire may occur. If a household socket is used as an exception for charging, a mobile charger is needed to regulate the energy between the socket and the battery. The process will be extremely long, however, as a maximum of 1.3 kW will be used.
CEE industrial sockets can be subjected to higher thermal and mechanical loads, and three-phase charging with up to 11 kW is possible with the red CEE socket.
The easiest way to charge is to use a wall charging station, also known as a wall box or home charging device. It is fitted with charging electronics and a directly connected cable with a Type 2 plug, the European standard. No additional cables or chargers are needed, and the charging capacity of a wall box is 11 or 22 kW. If the wall box is part of a charging management system in an underground car park with several wall boxes, the charging capacity may also temporarily be lower.
For on the move:
CHAdeMO was established in Japan in 2010, making it the oldest fast charging standard. It still has the largest coverage worldwide today. Most stations have a charging capacity of 50 kW, but some are also available with 150 kW, and there are plans to increase capacity up to 350 kW. In Europe, however, CHAdeMO is being used less and less as EU manufacturers have agreed to focus on the Combined Charging System (CCS).
The Combined Charging System is the preferred choice of American and European car manufacturers, and it is the most common system in Switzerland. While the fast-charging system initially had a capacity of 50 kW, today it is often 150 kW in Switzerland, and here, too, an increase up to 350 kW is planned. The name “Combined Charging” comes from the fact that the system allows for both DC and AC charging. There is a Type 2 plug for alternating current, and two separate poles called Combo 2 for direct current. Only one plug is needed in order to receive electricity.
In Switzerland and the rest of Europe, the three-phase Type 2 plug for charging with alternating current is the most common. This is a standard connection on the vehicle for normal charging with 230/400 V alternating current, and usually provides a maximum charging capacity of 11, 22 or 43 kW. In contrast to other fast charging standards, Type 2 charging stations supply alternating current (AC) and not direct current (DC). This means that the current does not flow directly into the battery, but first needs to be converted into direct current by the vehicle’s charger. This process takes a different amount of time depending on the charger.
Most stations charge with 22 to 42 kilowatts. Fast charging stations offer 50 to 150 kilowatts, which means a range increase of 250 to 750 kilometres per charging hour.
The charging time for electric cars depends primarily on four factors:
• Battery level
• The charging capacity of the charging station
• The car’s charging technology
• Battery capacity
Charging time can basically be calculated using this formula:
Charging time = battery capacity in kWh / charging capacity (kW)
Wall boxes were developed specifically for charging electric vehicles and are unquestionably the ideal infrastructure for charging at home. They charge batteries quickly and efficiently, and have significantly higher capacity than an ordinary household socket (Type 13). In addition, charging times are noticeably shorter with a wall charging station. And a timer can be used to determine when the battery should be charged, in order to benefit from the cheaper night-time rate for electricity. Those with a house can also install solar panels on the roof and produce some of the electricity themselves.
Calculation of charging infrastructure
A wall box can be purchased or rented. The costs, including installation by a specialist, depend on a range of factors – the more powerful the system, the more expensive its acquisition. Having to lay metres and metres of cables makes it more expensive still.
This page can be used to calculate how much a charging infrastructure with wall box will cost:
https://em.offerten-rechner.ch (only German, French and Italian)
Load management is advisable when several electric cars are to be charged at the same time in the underground car park of an apartment building, office building or shopping centre. This calls for dynamic load management that ensures that the electric vehicles are not all charged at the same time, to prevent the power grid from being overloaded. Load management also takes into account the amount of electricity needed by the building for other purposes. A special billing system enables each charging process to be assigned to an individual electricity consumer and billed accordingly.
Inductive charging is the wireless transfer of energy, as sometimes used for mobile phones and electric toothbrushes. Many cars allow smartphones to be charged in this way. The battery of an electric vehicle can also be charged using induction, using electromagnetic fields based on the same principle as an induction cooker. A stationary coil embedded in the floor builds up a magnetic field to another coil mounted below the vehicle, and electricity flows into the battery of the electric car in this way. Inductive charging fields can be installed at home, in car parks, at outdoor parking spaces and on the road near traffic lights.
This sounds impressively simple, and it works, but is not yet very widespread. The fact that charging plates need to be embedded in the ground makes this charging infrastructure very expensive to install. Uniform standards also still need to be formulated, and inductive charging takes more time and wastes a certain amount of energy.
Effective application is already under way in Braunschweig, Germany, for example, where electric public buses are fully charged using inductive fast charging with 200 kW at the terminus stop while the driver takes a break. Cologne and Oslo also have electric taxis that employ the same principle.
Volkswagen Group Components has developed a prototype of a mobile charging robot, one of the visionary concepts aimed at expanding the charging infrastructure in the coming years. The robot’s function is to enable the fully autonomous charging of vehicles in confined parking spaces such as underground car parks. “A charging infrastructure that is available everywhere is and will always be a key success factor in electric mobility. Our charging robot is just one of several approaches, but certainly one of the most visionary,” says Thomas Schmall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components.
The charging robot can be started via app or vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication and is completely autonomous. It controls and communicates with the vehicle to be charged independently. The robot opens the charging flap and connects and disconnects the plug, with no human involvement required throughout the entire process. In order to charge several vehicles at the same time, the mobile robot is accompanied by a trailer as a mobile energy storage unit which it connects and uses to charge the vehicle’s battery. The energy storage remains with the car during the charging process, while the robot proceeds with the charging of other vehicles. Once the process is complete, the robot collects the mobile energy storage unit and returns it to the central charging station.
This is how the mobile charging robot works:
Owners of electric vehicles will ideally be able to charge their batteries at home or at work, and need to be well organised if neither of these options is available to them. This applies in particular to those who live in a building without a garage and park their car on the street. The charging situation is currently not very convenient for on-street parking. Progress is being made in this regard, however, and in the future, drivers will increasingly be able to charge their electric vehicles on the street outside their home. On the Charging Network Switzerland platform, which is funded by SwissEnergy and the E-Mobility association, municipalities and cities can find support for improving the charging infrastructure at communal level. A brochure with measures and tips is also available, including the integration of charging stations for electric vehicles in lampposts along the street. Pilot tests are under way in Bern and Schlieren (canton of Zurich), where lampposts have been converted into charging stations in blue zones. A further pilot project with charging infrastructure in the blue zone is also in process in Basel.