UPDATE: Volkswagen e-Golf Suffers DC Charger Incompatibility in UK

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.

You can't use Ecotricity CCS quick charging stations with the Volkswagen e-Golf right now...

You can’t use Ecotricity CCS quick charging stations with the Volkswagen e-Golf right now…

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.

The CCS system found on the e-Golf isn't playing nice with certain charging stations.

The CCS system found on the e-Golf isn’t playing nice with certain charging stations.

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.

The Volkswagen e-Golf has an incompatibility with certain CCS quick charge stations made by DBT.

The Volkswagen e-Golf has an incompatibility with certain CCS quick charge stations made by DBT.

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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  • siblingsoulshine

    Maybe the Germans should think about CHAdeMO? It seems to work ok and there are quite a few of the charging stations around.

  • Ad van der Meer

    So it would seem to be a DBT problem rather than a VW problem. I am sure I’ve heard that tune before.

  • Jonathan Tracey

    Why done they just stop this CCS sillyness and take Elon up on the offer to use superchargers

    • TedKidd

      Because the frankenplug is cheap?…

  • vdiv

    MB engineers drove around the USA in a preproduction B-Class ED to verify compatibility with the actual deployed stations. Seems that VW didn’t do that.nnSo what else have they not tested?

  • D. Harrower

    So, the eGolf fails to charge at the stations of VW’s chosen UK charging partner…nnWhat exactly did they do their testing on then? Surely it wouldn’t be an issue for a big automaker like VW to get a CCS charger from every company in existence shipped to their facility for compatibility testing?nnSomebody at VW dropped the ball and is now trying to pass the buck.

    • Jason Wallace

      Yes, it’s a bit of both parties. Certainly as it is one car model from a two model line up it shows that there was some code level tinkering going on. Then again, it is also just one model of rapid charger that has the issue. It is quite conceivable that VW were doing their testing against someone else’s charger, assuming that all chargers are the same while, as we know, they are not. This would be borne out by the fact that a DBT unit was shipped to VW for them to test against