Volkswagen has opened one of the most extensive electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in North America, but you, Joe Public, can’t use it. That’s right. The facility, at the company’s 1,600-acre Arizona Proving Grounds in Maricopa, Arizona, is reserved for VW’s research and development teams.
It’s one of two worldwide for the company and was deigned to test battery and charging performance under extreme hot-weather conditions. It will allow the charging of EVs in weather conditions up to 120 degrees (but it’s a dry heat).
There are chargers from a number of companies on site.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The 50-space station features 25 DC fast chargers, with variable power outputs from the most commonly used charger power today at 50 kilowatts up to 350kW, can charge properly equipped EVs at speeds up to 20 miles per minute.
There’s also 10 Level 2 AC chargers that will be used to simulate typical, home-based charging. These chargers will utilize charge plugs from the three standard connector types: U.S.
(CCS1), Europe (CCS2) and China (GB-T).
Volkswagen has plans to install pads to study inductive charging in the future.
All charging equipment comes from different global brands. It was developed in partnership with Electrify America. In a statement, Volkswagen said, “Parallel to the testing of electric vehicles at the EV station, the performance of the charging equipment is tested under these extreme-heat conditions to help improve the performance of the chargers for consumers.”
The infrastructure allows for a variety of types of testing.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
Of the 50 spots, 16 are located under a remote-controlled canopy, which uses awnings to simulate full sun and shaded conditions.
There are also safety measures in place including a battery temperature monitoring system, developed in-house, that Volkswagen says is the basis of the world’s first battery cooling system designed to prevent overheating damage in a serious emergency. A small building in the middle of the charging station allows engineers and test drivers to evaluate all testing data without having to endure the extreme heat themselves.
The charging station, along with the related support infrastructure, cost an estimated $9 million. Construction began in early 2019 and was completed in February 2020. The station received its final certification this month.
Volkswagen has announced plans for an electrified model infusion into its lineup.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
Research at the site will support Volkswagen Group products worldwide including the Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, and Volkswagen brands.