By on February 4, 2019

Volkswagen has agreed to spend $2 billion improving the United States’ adolescent charging infrastructure over the next 10 years as part its diesel-related agreement with federal regulators. As part of that arrangement, the automaker established Electrify America as the subsidiary responsible for most of the leg work.

While it invests heavily in the nation’s EV charging network and drops a few million here and there to raise ecological awareness and encourage the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, it also has to be careful to remain brand neutral.

None of Electrify America’s programs can be seen as catering to VW, resulted in some interesting bedfellows. Case in point, Electrify America just announced plans to install Tesla Inc battery storage packs at more than 100 charging stations across the U.S. 

The goal, according to VW’s subsidiary, is to draw energy from the grid during off-peak hours (when it’s cheaper) and store it in Tesla’s storage units to be used by customers later.

“If you pass the demand charge onto the customer in a high-demand charge market [it could cost anywhere from $70 to $110 to fully charge one vehicle],” Electrify America’s chief operating officer, Brendan Jones, told Reuters in an interview. “If you did that, obviously nobody would buy an electric vehicle.”

Electrify America plans to install the battery packs in areas of the United States with higher concentrations of electric vehicles, specifically the coastal regions. Jone estimates the company will have 484 charging stations built across America by June, adding that Electrify America is discussing the roll-out of additional battery storage units with regulators for its next round of court-appointed investments. These will likely include more of the firm’s  350-kW fast chargers and additional sites in 42 states.

“Our stations are offering some of the most technologically advanced charging that is available,” Giovanni Palazzo, chief executive officer of Electrify America, said as part of the company’s corporate announcement. “With our chargers offering high power levels, it makes sense for us to use batteries at our most high demand stations for peak shaving to operate more efficiently. Tesla’s Powerpack system is a natural fit given their global expertise in both battery storage development and EV charging.”

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

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17 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Electrify America Buying Tesla Hardware for EV Charging Stations...”


  • avatar
    James2

    “If you pass the demand charge onto the customer in a high-demand charge market [it could cost anywhere from $70 to $110 to fully charge one vehicle],” Electrify America’s chief operating officer, Brendan Jones, told Reuters in an interview. “If you did that, obviously nobody would buy an electric vehicle.”

    So, what will it cost and if it’s being subsidized, who’s doing the subsidizing?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That’s a BS statement by Mr Jones. Such a figure means you’d be paying around $1.00/kWh – multiples of what anyone in the country is paying for electricity at home or for charging via EVGo or ChargePoint.

      • 0 avatar
        EGSE

        You beat me to it; the numbers don’t make sense.

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          Highest kWhr cost I am personally acquainted with is RI’s $0.23 for their Block Island floating windmills. Used to live in that state. Electric power generation surrounding by conductive salt water – what could possibly go wrong? Pricewise, HI is about 20% worse than that. Do they do any hot geothermal in hula-land? Works for Iceland – an amazing $0.043 with a goal of 100% hot geothermal power generation. FPL charges me about $0.12/kWhr and is at the other end of the price spectrum in the US.
          I have no idea of losses getting energy into the battery pack, getting it back out and then into the EV, but there has to be some overhead. Even so, sounds like its a long way from $70+ for 100kWhr of energy.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “If you pass the demand charge onto the customer in a high-demand charge market…”

        That’s the crux, because all that infrastructure and equipment isn’t free and the actual users would pay for it as they go until break-even is reached (which is never).

        Just look at tolls on bridges and tunnels, or even the phone company, or the debt for WW1. Once paid for, the tolls just keep merrily going, ad infinitum.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        I think he is talking about the sort of thing that has become common in Australia since they spiked up renewables (see quote below), where spot market price has been higher than $13 per kWh many times, which would lead to a $1,300 recharge cost on an empty Tesla battery. Similar spikes recently occurred during the cold snap in Minnesota. Given California’s increasing reliance on renewables, such scenarios will be very common.

        “Since the start of 2017, Queensland’s wholesale spot price for electricity has spiked above $13,000 per megawatt hour a total of 71 times, according to analysis by Dylan McConnell from the Climate & Energy College at the University of Melbourne.”

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          And this is why renewables as base power generation is currently insane, progressives be damned.

          • 0 avatar

            Their goal is to strangle economy by introducing new rules and regulations, eventually making people poor and dependent on Government. Because poor people will vote for them as they usually do. Good examples of this scenario is aftermath of WW1 in Russia and Germany.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “…who’s doing the subsidizing?”

      We all already know the answer to that. It will be the taxpaying public!

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        No, not the taxpayers. Other charging station users within the system. That’s how it’s done now.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          mcs, I hope you are right.

          But setting up a nationwide infrastructure of EV charging stations is not do-able if only “Other charging station users within the system.” will be subsidizing it.

          There ain’t enough of them. And there never will be until the planet runs out of crude oil.

          Look at the Windfarms and Solarfarms mandated into being. ALL the customers are paying for them through higher electricity rates even though many of them never get to use any of that green-electricity because it is exported to higher-usage states.

  • avatar
    mcs

    By the way, Shell is finally expanding its European charging network to the US. They just bought a US charging network:

    https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/30/with-its-greenlots-acquisition-shell-is-moving-from-gas-stations-to-charging-stations/

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Instead of buying 3rd-party batteries, Volkswagen should use their own vast battery production capacity to build these buffer systems. /s

  • avatar
    Asdf

    Volkswagen obviously needs to rethink this move. It makes no absolutely sense whatsoever to set up charging stations until charging technology has evolved to the point where a BEV may be fully charged in approximately the same time it takes to refill a fuel tank. Until then, building a charging network is just a waste of time and resources, as is of course building BEVs. Tesla’s impending bankruptcy will teach everyone this lesson in the near future.

  • avatar
    jatz

    This sounds pretty punitive. Not a lot of EV Folksvagens running around out there.

  • avatar
    claytori

    I have some experience with commercial electricity accounts. The “distribution” charge is based on the peak demand in a month. If the peak can be reduced then there is a substantial reduction in this charge. Think of it as a rental charge for the power line capacity required to meet the customer’s peak demand. Using a battery would enable this reduction by evening out demand.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    What’s this got to do with being brand-neutral? It’s not like VW is installing Tesla-specific Superchargers. They’re installing the same chargers they always do. They’re just supplementing some of them with batteries that can suck up power at cheap off-peak rates for distribution later, and the company that makes the best batteries for that purpose happens to be Tesla. (Clickbait for the jump maybe?)

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