How they compare: Tesla Supercharger V3 goes online, as VW announces power bank competitor
Ahead of the launch of its new small crossover, the Model Y, next week, Tesla, arguably the world’s most influential electric car brand, has announced its Supercharger V3.
The firm already has over 12,000 Supercharger sites around the world, and these will be upgraded with the latest charging technology over the course of the next six months in the US, with Europe following in Q4.
Charge at 1,000mph
The new Supercharger is a 1MW power cabinet, capable of supporting peak charging rates of 250kW per car. The previous Supercharger V2 split power between two cars, charging each at a rate of up to 120kW.
The new technology allows a Tesla Model 3 Long Range to gain 75 miles of range in 5 minutes – with Tesla quoting a nice, round ‘charging at 1,000mph’ figure for the Supercharger’s top speed. All in, Tesla claims that the new charging tech will cut times by 50 percent, with the typical charge taking 15 minutes.
In order to achieve ideal charge conditions, a software update has begun rolling out to Model 3s. Called On-Route Battery Warm Up, it allows the battery to reach an optimum temperature when the driver is navigating to a Supercharger station, with Tesla claiming this reduces average charging times by 25 percent.
Flexibility key for VW
Meanwhile, at the Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen Group Components, VW's e-mobility division, has unveiled a near-series version of its flexible quick-charging station. Called power bank for now, the unit emphasizes flexibility. Each recycles cells taken from VW’s electric vehicles, built on its MEB platform matrix, allowing the charger to be fully portable, and installed temporarily wherever there is need. Once the batteries in the charger are depleted past a defined level, the charger itself is replaced with a fully-charged unit.
The charger can also be connected to the power grid – VW encourages interested parties to think of it like an extra battery you use to add charge to your phone, just on a bigger scale.
The power bank measures 1,200mm x 1,000mm, and has a total power capacity of 360kW. It is capable of charging four vehicles simultaneously. Two charge with DC current at up to 100kW, the other two at up to 22kW AC.
No charging times are yet given, as we’ll have to wait until next year for VW’s first electric car to be launched. Likewise, the charging unit won’t enter series production at the firm’s site in Hanover, Germany, until 2020.
Different charging approaches
Tesla, as the established firm in the battle for electric car supremacy, is already on the third iteration of its charging tech. It has 99% Supercharger coverage in the US market, with the same figure in Europe due to be achieved by the end of 2019. China coverage is at 90 percent. Therefore, its more mature approach is no surprise – and reaching a 1MW capacity shows the firm is looking to the future, and its electric truck, which will have its own significant charging demands.
VW, by contrast, is still to introduce its first series EV, and has the issue of range anxiety to cure in its customers – perhaps illustrating the complexities of being a legacy OEM, rather than a start-up like Tesla. Therefore VW has prioritized portability, allowing its charging network to be installed very quickly, and remotely – and getting its stats for number of charge points up rapidly.
One final piece of intrigue is that VW recently announced that it will buy Tesla Powerpacks in the US, to help ramp up its charging network. So perhaps we should see the two approaches as mutually beneficial? We’re intrigued to see how it all plays out.
Is Tesla too far ahead of the pack to be caught? Is VW on the right, electrified track? Questions, thoughts, concerns? Let us know in the comments section below.