VW has unveiled a new 22 kW bi-directional DC charging station for electric vehicles that sort of closes the gap between level 2 charging and level 3 DC fast-charging.
Typically, we refer to charging electric vehicles with 3 different levels.
Level 1 or trickle charging consists of plugging into a 120-volt regular wall outlet, which provides very limited charging that can literally take days to charge a long-range electric car.
It is still useful, but it is not recommended as the main way of charging for most people.
Level 2 consists of charging on a 240-volt outlet that can provide more power – typically up to 11 kW depending on a few bottlenecks including the mobile connectors, typically the one supplied with the electric car, or a wall connector, and the on-board charger that converts AC inside the vehicle to DC power to charge the battery pack.
Finally, there’s Level 3, which is DC fast-charging using commercial charging stations that supply power directly into the battery pack. That’s the fast solution with charging rates starting at 50 kW and going up to 300 kW, but it requires connecting to a commercial charging network.
A few companies have been exploring offering something between Level 2 and Level 3 – a sort of smaller, less powerful DC charging.
That’s what VW unveiled today: the DC Wallbox.
The German automaker wrote in a press release about the new device:
“With the new wallbox, electric vehicles can be charged with direct current (DC) up to 22 kW – which is about double the speed of a typical wallbox working with alternating current (AC). In charging technology based on direct current, the electricity flows directly into the lead traction battery, provided that the electric vehicle features a combined charging system (CCS) charging port. Unlike systems based on alternating current, electric vehicles are charged independently of their integrated on-board chargers that limit charging capacity. Charging the lead traction battery with a direct current, on the other hand, increases the potential charging capacity when compared with alternating current. The charging process can therefore be significantly shortened.”
VW is deploying 20 DC Wallboxes at different sites across Germany in order to test the new system.
The automaker also said that the device is bi-directional – meaning that it could enable vehicle-to-grid functionality in electric vehicles.
VW hasn’t elaborated on the use cases of the DC Wallbox and if it plans to make it a residential or commercial-only device, but it did say that it is looking to bring it to production.
Bidirectional DC fast charging is not only a way to increase the speed of home and work charging without putting a big, heavy, expensive rectifier inside of the vehicle but it is also a way to feed back into the grid or home when the vehicle battery charge isn’t needed. For instance, as we learned with the Quasar, it basically turns your car into a Tesla Powerwall for power out situations. It can also be used by electric companies for location specific brownout preventative measures.
The CCS Combo standard allows for Vehicle to Grid use so it will be interesting to see if Volkswagen’s Wallbox will be standards compliant and which VW vehicles will be able to use this functionality and when. We’ll be watching!
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