Volkswagen Will Convert German Car-Parts Factory to Build Mobile EV Charging Stations

It's one way to preserve jobs in the transition to electric cars.

Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen plans to start mass production of a mobile electric-car charging station in 2020, and it's now designated an existing car-parts factory in Hanover, Germany to build the charging stations. They'll be made in a section of the factory that currently churns out heat exchangers.

The charging station has its own 360-kilowatt-hour battery pack, allowing it to charge multiple electric vehicles (VW has said it can be used for both cars and e-bikes) without being connected to the grid. The station has two DC and two AC plugs, with the faster DC plugs capable of full recharges in as little as 17 minutes, according to Volkswagen.

While the station can be plugged into the grid to recharge, Volkswagen has suggested that operators can simply swap a station with a depleted battery pack for a fully-charged one when needed. Stations could also absorb excess electricity from the grid during periods of low demand, and discharge it during periods of high demand. This evens out the flow of electricity, which saves wear and tear on grid infrastructure.

The automaker claims its plans to start production at the existing Hanover factory in 2020 will preserve jobs on the line and in research and development. One example given is that engineers currently working on heat exchangers could feasibly transition to developing battery-cooling systems. This is important; because electric cars have fewer components than their internal-combustion counterparts, there has been some concern among union leaders that their introduction will lead to widespread job losses.

VW plans to test the first mobile charging stations in its hometown of Wolfsburg, Germany, later this year. Their mass production will further support a growing lineup of Volkswagen electric cars launching over the next few years.