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Volkswagen to Improve Power Infrastructure to Catch Up With Tesla

Volkswagen will be focusing on a key component within the EV industry equation, which is power infrastructure: charging stations throughout Europe, energy division enlargement and doubling staff numbers accordingly, in order to be able to compete with Tesla.

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As per the latest information coming from Reuters, "… by ensuring there are enough fast-charging plugs - and enough power - for the EVs it wants to sell, Europe's biggest carmaker hopes to convince drivers worried about battery ranges that they can ditch their fossil fuel cars for good."

Reuters stated that "...Volkswagen has drafted in power industry veteran Elke Temme, who spent nearly two decades at German energy companies RWE (RWEG.DE) and Innogy, to help the carmaker get in better shape to take on Tesla". RWE AG is a German multinational energy company headquartered in Essen. It generates and trades electricity in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States. The company is the world's number two in offshore wind power and Europe's third largest in renewable energy. In the 2020 Forbes Global 2000, RWE Group was ranked as the 297th -largest public company in the world.

Tesla Supercharger, courtesy of Tesla Inc.Innogy eMobility Solutions GmbH operates one of the largest charging points network in Europe, which includes 7,000 charging points in over twenty countries. Since September 2008, it operated in cooperation with Daimler AG a test project in Berlin called e-mobility Berlin. It also cooperated with an Italian company called Be Charge. In July 2018, the subsidiary of the United States, innogy eMobility US, announced the acquisition of California based BTCPower, a manufacturer of DC fast chargers and AC Level 2 chargers. In October 2018, the acquisition of California based Recargo, an electric mobility software company, was announced. Recargo produces the popular PlugShare platform that helps electric vehicle (EV) drivers find public charging stations

In the job since January 2021, 53 year old Elke Temme has been tasked with bundling the carmaker's various power activities such as procuring energy, enabling customers to charge their cars at home and on the road, and selling the electricity required. Temme told Reuters in an interview that getting this done will require a bigger workforce and that she plans to double the staff at Volkswagen's European charging and energy division, known as Elli, to about 300 in 2022, having already tripled it this year.

Tesla Charger, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

"We're investing in huge growth areas that don't always have to be profitable right away. We always see these investments in the overall context of our group strategy," she said. "That's why building up a comprehensive infrastructure is key."

According to a previous thorough study, also performed by Reuters (last November 10th), it was stated that global automakers were planning to spend more than half a trillion dollars on electric vehicles and batteries through 2030; as per their analysis, amping up investments aimed at weaning car buyers away from fossil fuels and meeting increasingly tough decarbonization targets are key components of the plan.

Less than three years ago, yet another similar analysis by Reuters found car companies planned to spend $300 billion on EVs and related technologies. But looming zero-carbon mandates in cities such as London and Paris and countries from Norway to China have lent additional urgency to the industry’s EV-related investment commitments.
"We are pursuing a different approach than Tesla when it comes to charging infrastructure roll-out," said Temme.
"We want an open, non-discriminatory charging network and will develop our services to make our offer more comfortable, simpler, more attractive."

Tesla Supercharger, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

From the first quarter of 2022, Volkswagen plans to offer "Plug & Charge" technology in Europe to make the process smoother, according to Reuters.

Will that be enough to compete with Tesla and its network of charging stations in Europe, with its Model 3 and Model Y, and the upcoming Giga Factory in Berlin? That is a question that remains to be answered, but we will know by early 2022, probably in the first or second quarter.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.

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