It has the timeless good looks of Volkswagen’s iconic hatchback, can seat five, travel around 80 miles on a charge with ease and can recharge from empty to full on a domestic charging station overnight.
They even feature quick charging capability as standard, meaning you can recharge their batteries from empty to 80 per cent full in just 30 minutes on the road from a compatible CCS charging station.
But as Brits taking delivery of the all-new Volkswagen e-Golf are discovering, there’s a potential communication problem between the five-seat electric hatchback and certain brands of DC CCS quick charging stations, leaving them unable to make long-distance trips.
As AutoCar reports, the problem seems to stem from DBT-manufactured double and triple-head rapid charging stations fitted with CCS quick charge connectors, namely those operated by UK-wide charging provider and utility company Ecotricity.
According to Volkswagen, a software issue within the charging stations is preventing them from correctly communicating with the e-Golf, leading to a failed charging session. While the charging stations work correctly with other CCS-compatible electric cars, including the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Up, the charging stations won’t work with e-Golf cars at the time of writing.
UPDATE: We’ve heard from Ecotricity this morning, who tell us that Volkswagen managed to replicate the problems experienced with its CCS charging stations on a DBT-branded charging station in Germany yesterday, reiterating that the problem is intrinsic to the charging station rather than the charging network.
The problem has now been identified, and DBT is working with Volkswagen in Germany to design and test a fix for the problem.
Because of the high power transfers involved — as high as 50 kilowatts of direct current power — rapid charging stations the protocols dictating communication between car and charging station are rigorous and default to a safe state at the first sign of trouble. Even a small difference in the way a standard is interpreted can lead to an incompatibility between charging station and car.
Naturally, Volkswagen, Ecotricity — which is actually Volkswagen’s chosen electromobility partner for the UK — and charging point manufacturer DBT are all working together to resolve the issue.
In an official statement, Volkswagen said that its Volkswagen e-Golf was tested against a range of CCS charging stations before launch, including ones similar to those used by Ecotricity without any problems. Moreover, other brands of rapid charging stations — including those manufactured by German company ABB — can successfully charge the e-Golf.
Luckily for all concerned, the numbers of e-Golf cars in the wild remains fairly low, giving everyone a little time to resolve the problem before huge numbers are on the road.
Although frustrating for e-Golf owners, the incompatibility issues yet again highlights the difficult challenges facing automakers and charging providers in implementing rapid charging technology which works with each and every new car on the market.
For now, Volkswagen says e-Golf owners will have to look elsewhere for their CCS DC rapid charging needs, or be content to charge at the 3.3 kilowatts offered by the e-Golf’s on-board charger. Unlike the U.S. market e-Golf, a faster 7 kilowatt on-board charger is not offered in the UK.
This week, Transport Evolved happens to have a UK-market Volkswagen e-Golf on loan from the Volkswagen press fleet, so we’ll be sure to let you know if this problem is resolved in the next few days — and of course, we’ll be sure to test it too.
And like many e-Golf drivers, we’re glad we found out about this particular problem before we embarked on our planned 500-mile trip. Like any EV, it always pays to double-check charging station functionality before you leave on a long trip.
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