Following on from last month’s announcement that it would be working alongside fellow German automaker BMW and U.S. Charging Provider ChargePoint to build both an east and west coast fast-charging corridor for its electric car customers, Volkswagen has announced a commitment to a total $10 million investment into supporting electric car charging infrastructure over the next year.
The announcement, made yesterday at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington D.C. by Jörg Sommer, Vice President for Product Marketing and Strategy at Volkswagen of America, will include installing DC Fast Charging stations at select dealers across the U.S. in addition to the 100 DC Fast Chargers already planned as part of its joint project with ChargePoint and BMW.
The charging stations — which will use the Combo CCS quick charge standard championed by all German automakers as their quick charge standard of choice — will be capable of recharging electric cars like the current-generation Volkswagen e-Golf from empty to 80 percent full in around 30 minutes. Within a few years’ time, those same fast chargers will also be capable of recharging the battery packs of Volkswagen’s future plug-in hybrid models, all of which will come with CCS connectors as standard.
But in order for Volkswagen’s $10 million of investment to be of use to millions of Americans however, Sommer warned, federal and state governments needed to also step up to the plate to help electric vehicle adoption along.
“Automakers have effectively delivered electric vehicles that can satisfy the needs of most American drivers,” he said his official speech yesterday. “In addition to the investment we and other companies and industries are making, we would like to see Federal financing support for establishing fast charging networks in urban areas and interstate corridors. We’d like to see more state and federal organizations commit to cleaner fleets by purchasing EVs and PHEVs.”
While the U.S. federal government has helped fund charging network developments in the past, the majority of funds was spent on building slower-speed, Level 2 charging stations in busy cities and existing electric-car hotspots. But, argued Sommer, without those longer-distance, reliable, rapid charging networks, fewer people would adopt electric cars.
In other words, Sommer said, it was time for the Government to lead by example.
“This should be a U.S. Government priority, and federal purchasing guidelines should reflect that by giving fleet purchases the flexibility they need,” he continued, adding that state, local and regional infrastructure deployment relied on regulators and legislators to support programs that reinforced the efforts of automakers to encourage mass electric vehicle adoption.
We also note however, that Sommer called for the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulation policy to extend the ‘multiplier credits’ used for plug-in vehicles beyond 2020. Offered for plug-in, electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as well as compressed natural gas vehicles, multiplier credits enable automakers to meet increasingly tough emissions requirements and corporate average fuel economy standards by multiplying the effect of any emissions credits and fuel economy credits earned across the fleet.
In other words, with those multipliers in place, automakers need to produce fewer plug-in vehicles to meet emissions targets than they would without them in place.
Calling for those multiplier credits to be extended implies that Volkswagen — like many other automakers — believes current EPA emissions and CAFE targets are going to be too difficult to meet without some extra help.
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