Like auto recycling, electric cars help reduce the environmental impact of driving.
Recent news reports suggest that Volkswagen could soon initiate a major project involving home electrical charging and storage. It may cooperate with a German photovoltaics manufacturer known as SMA Solar. The project could help VW owners charge their vehicles with residential solar panels and various other power sources.
Representatives of Volkswagen and SMA Solar have yet to reveal any details about the plan. However, it wouldn’t be unusual for SMA to partner with a car manufacturer. The company has collaborated with Tesla and Daimler in the past. Previous projects involved technology that stores electrical energy for future use.
After facing major losses and bad publicity due to a diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen has sought to diversify. The automaker has begun shifting away from diesel engines, and it is focusing on selling electric cars. It manufactured nearly 70,000 electric autos in 2015 and hopes to add many new models by 2025.
During September 2015, VW’s previous chief executive talked about offering more options for electric car buyers. He said that the company aimed to sell 20 different plug-in models within five years. They would include hybrids and fully electric cars. A more recent news report indicates that Volkswagen hopes to raise the number of models to 30 in 2025.
All plug-in vehicles have the potential to charge their batteries using home solar panels. One example is the VW Budd-e van, a concept vehicle that appeared at a recent electronics show. This van’s axles feature separate motors. It can travel over 230 miles after a driver fully charges its batteries with solar energy and/or other electrical power.
Solar-powered autos will remain rare until motorists have access to affordable photovoltaic panels and rechargeable batteries. A media outlet in Germany recently suggested that VW may be planning to establish a huge battery factory in Europe. It would resemble a Tesla plant under construction in Nevada.
Why does VW want to manufacture batteries? The answer is that this would make electric and hybrid autos more competitive by cutting production and shipping costs. Volkswagen would no longer need to order batteries from Korean and Japanese electronics companies. Dependable high-capacity batteries are crucial to effective solar charging at home.
Although plug-in VWs aren’t entirely new, the company’s recent emissions scandal spurred it to seriously concentrate on solar and other electrical power. This scandal affected numerous models worldwide and could cost the company over $17 billion. It has also highlighted the substantial air pollution generated by diesel cars. Electric vehicles eliminate emissions test concerns.
Volkswagen recently reopened a German factory with glass walls. It features electric vehicle exhibits for visitors to examine. The company manufactures eight different plug-in models that motorists can purchase in Europe. It is also developing an unnamed all-electric car with a range of approximately 180 miles. This vehicle could completely run on solar energy.
Tesla Motors continues to take steps toward embracing renewable energy. Earlier in the year, the automaker announced that it would pay over $2 billion for SolarCity. It now has the capability to manufacture and supply electric vehicles, storage batteries and photovoltaic panels. Volkswagen’s new partnerships and facilities may help it do the same.
One reason for VW’s focus on electric cars is a huge legal settlement. The U.S. government didn’t only require Volkswagen to compensate drivers and buy back or modify diesel vehicles with excessive emissions. It also demanded that the automaker spend $2 billion to enhance the charging infrastructure for plug-in autos. This could make it possible for electric car owners to charge their vehicles in many new locations.
Volkswagen’s plan to implement this investment remains unclear. Nearly 30 companies in the vehicle charging industry have urged the Justice Department to ensure fair competition. They also recommended that the government allocate a portion of the settlement to reward citizens for installing solar and other home charging devices. This idea could make such systems even more economical.
To sum it up, motorists can look forward to more affordable home solar charging equipment as photovoltaic panel companies partner with top automakers. At the same time, Volkswagen is working to develop additional electric car models and produce its own batteries. Such efforts could help to establish the plug-in vehicle as a realistic option for many drivers.