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Volkswagen will use Tesla battery packs in some of its US charging stations

Volkswagen will use Tesla battery packs in some of its US charging stations


The Powerwall battery packs are meant to help during peak charging times

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Image: Tesla

Volkswagen’s Electrify America is buying and installing Tesla Powerpacks at “more than 100” of its charging stations to help during peak charging times, the company announced on Monday. The Powerpacks, which will be installed over the course of 2019, will have 350kWh of capacity and be capable of 210kW fast-charging.

The addition of Tesla’s battery storage units to VW’s fast-growing EV charging network is a sign that automakers will need to work together to build out the infrastructure needed to support the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Tesla laid the groundwork with its Supercharger network, and other car companies with aspirations of electrified lineups are still playing catch-up.

A sign that automakers will increasingly need to work together to build out the EV infrastructure

Tesla’s willingness to assist a competitor like VW with meeting peak demand is a reflection of CEO Elon Musk’s public comments about using electric cars to shift the market to a more “sustainable future.” That said, Musk still sees the new crop of EVs that are coming to the market as just a “small trickle” that pose no direct threat to his company’s lineup of popular vehicles.

This is not the first application of Powerpack or storage within a charging network – in fact, Tesla has already tested this technology in its own Supercharger network. That said, the peak demand benefits that Electrify America are seeking are less relevant to Tesla’s Supercharging network given the size of the company’s vehicle fleet and near-constant state of use. Other networks are still prone to long periods of vacancy, the cost of which Tesla’s batteries can help offset.

VW hopes to introduce the first in a future family of all-electric vehicles in 2019. The company has sold an all-electric Golf since 2015, but the new I.D. hatchback — the first in a line of “I.D.”-branded electric cars — will be sold in three different range options, starting with a little less than 200 miles and a price of a little over $30,000.

Giovanni Palazzo, CEO of VW’s Electrify America, called Tesla’s Powerpack system “a natural fit” with his company’s charging stations “given their global expertise in both battery storage development and EV charging.”

“a natural fit”

Electrify America is aiming to have a network of nearly 3,000 chargers online across the US by the middle of the year, but only 89 charging stations are currently in operation. The company experienced a brief outage last month after concerns emerged about the liquid-cooled cables that were provided by a Swiss supplier.

While the vast majority of Tesla’s business is devoted to the manufacturing and sale of its mass-market Model 3 vehicle, the company’s energy business is still humming along. In 2018, Tesla deployed 1.04GWh of energy storage, nearly tripling its energy storage deployments in 2017, the company said in a recent letter to investors. Tesla is increasing the production of its Powerwall and Powerpack modules at the Gigafactory, thanks to the addition of a new manufacturing line made by Grohmann Engineering, a German firm acquired by the company in 2016.

“With a better supply of cells and new manufacturing equipment, we are aiming to more than double energy storage deployments to over 2 GWh in 2019,” the letter states.