VW opens hot weather EV testing facility

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Volkswagen has opened an extensive electric charging network at its Arizona Proving Grounds in the USA, which it hopes will accelerate its evaluation and testing of battery and charging performance under extreme hot-weather conditions. It said the installation will also allow its engineers to receive real-time data to see how various chargers compare.

The 50-space charging station is located at the VW Group of America’s (WVGoA) global test facility in Maricopa, Arizona —one of the company’s two worldwide hot-weather test facilities—and will allow the charging of EVs in weather conditions up to 120°C. VW said its features 25 DC fast chargers, with variable power outputs from the most commonly used charger power today at 50kW all the way up to 350kW, which can charge capable EVs at speeds up to 20 miles per minute.

A total of 10 Level 2 AC chargers will also be used at the facility to simulate typical, home-based charging. These chargers will utilize charge plugs from the three standard connector types: US (CCS1), Europe (CCS2) and China (GB-T). Pads will also be installed in the future to test inductive charging. All charging equipment comes from different brands from around the world to maximize testing variability.

“The opening of this charging station means one of the most sophisticated EV testing facilities in the world with some of the toughest conditions on Earth will be right here in the USA,” said Dr Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner, chief engineering officer for Volkswagen’s North American Region.

Sixteen charge point parking spots are located under a remote-controlled canopy, which uses awnings to simulate full sun and shaded conditions. The charging station also features state-of-the-art safety controls including a battery temperature monitoring system, developed in-house, that 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 center of the charging station will allow engineers and test drivers to safely evaluate all testing data without enduring the extreme heat of the Arizona desert.

The charging station was built in partnership with Electrify America, the independent subsidiary of VWGoA that is tasked with building charging infrastructure and electric mobility education. 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.

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