Saturday, November 10, 2018

Is Volkswagen's Punishment For DieselGate Suddenly Become An Advantage?

Green Car Reports on VW expected pricing.

In 2015, The US Government brought suit against Volkswagen for intentionally defeating the required emission testing for its "clean diesel" fleet.  For years, VW had confounded the auto industry in its ability to provide a powerful, high MPG car that easily met an increasingly strict diesel emission standard set by the United States.

Faced with indisputable evidence of tampering, VW admitted it had installed special software that would greatly reduce emissions (and power) during testing. Since the car was not actually moving, the reduced power levels went unnoticed.  As soon as the testing was done, the software was disabled and the VW with its power restored was passed.  But now its emissions were as much as 300% over the limits that other manufacturers were being held to.

Over half a million vehicles were involved having been sold and driven for years in the US.  If you were ever stuck behind one of them with the vents open, your "clean diesel" thoughts were right. They were far from clean.

Eventually courts levied up to 25 Billion in fines (the figure is inexact due to cost variances in the choices offered current VW owners) which included 2 Billion to be invested in public charging infrastructure evenly divided in 4 phases covering 10 years.  Phase one concentrating on completing a major highway network with stations ideally 80ish miles apart is slated to be completed by Summer 2019.

  EA Network Phase One

As of this writing, 30 locations are now open for business; many in key areas where other charging options are minimal or non existent. But one thing has become quite clear; The network is becoming less punitive and more advantageous to VW's future EV plans with every station opening up and it seems like we are all but accepting of that fact. 

The SC Advantage

Tesla knew that their high priced cars would be much more attractive if they were able to be used well beyond their stated range. The Supercharger network exclusive to Tesla's allows exactly that to happen. Being an EV only manufacturer, it was easy for Tesla to make this mulimillion dollar decision but other EV manufacturers still rely very heavily on their carbon fueled products making an EV only investment of that magnitude that much harder to justify.  But the benefits of public charging are undeniable and most EV manufacturers have spent some money to that end. But a network that fails to cover the country end to end is exactly that; a failure.  A reason to keep gassing.

Electrify America

EA was created by VW to install and manage the network independent of VW... Well, at least that is what was stated on paper. 

VW set up a new subsidiary called Electrify America to build the network independently from the company. The chargers will not be proprietary to VW and use Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO and open protocols like Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP).

So its a win-win for all, right!!


So far every station built has been using the same pattern.  They are advertised as having "at least" 4 high powered stations to be used by CCS and Chademo compatible EVs.   This implies equal access when the fact is EVERY site so far has ZERO exclusive access for Chademo compatible EVs.

Dual Format Charger; EA Site Albany OR Walmart
CCS Only Chargers; EA Site Albany OR Walmart

During my Oregon Coast trip, I took I-5 on the return so had a chance to see the Albany OR EA site at the Walmart there.  This site is advertised as having 4 CCS stations and one Chademo station implying that if you are the only Chademo compatible EV there, you are guaranteed a plug. This couldn't be farther from the truth. 

In the top picture we see that the chademo plug is actually part of a dual format machine that anyone who has used EVGO would be very familiar with. Unfortunately (despite the additional power available) only one side can be used at a time.  These stations won't even queue a 2nd car despite rumors stating they do have the capability.  

This means its possible a LEAFer or Souler could pull in with only ONE EV charging and not be able to charge if the ONE CCS compatible EV chose the dual format station.  Sounds ridiculous? It doesn't to me.  I have encountered a ton of clueless EVers out there including plug ins with only J1772 spending way more than a few minutes trying to figure out how to make the fast charger work. 

Another thing to consider is Tesla's (except the 3) can use Chademo but not CCS which means even less likely to have access to the single chademo plug. 

CCS Advantage

Ok so CCS is not a proprietary VW thing so how can they work it to their advantage?  How about pricing Chademo's out of the market.  EA announced pricing that includes a modest connect fee of a buck but an outrageous per minute fee.  Chademo is currently restricted to 50 KW (with no plans to upgrade) while CCS is slated to be at least 150 KW with 350 KW options for the upcoming 800 volt systems that will be hitting the streets next year. 

The outrageously high per minute cost will all but guarantee that older LEAFs (ramp down happens around 40%) won't be taking up any space here.  Even the 30 kwh LEAFs and Souls (full speed charging to near 80%) will be cutting their visits short. With an 80 mile distance between chargers, they will likely not visit at all. 

Finally (not really) don't be surprised when VW or Audi (VW in disguise) starts offering special sweetheart deals to EA's network. They have already delayed their big EV push so they won't be in direct competition price wise with Tesla or Chevy and their reduced fed perks.  

All in all, a great way to minimize the pain of their penalty, right?  Too bad the government did not demand cash and hand it over to EVGO or someone else to spend on the network instead. 

EA Report Card

At this point, I would struggle to give them a C.  Many feel that they are doing a great job of rolling out the network since several have opened all in the last 6 months but EA is behind on its timetable having promised to have 200 plugs by the end of Q4 2018. That does not seem very likely especially considering the very slow progress being made in California.  

Now if missing the timetable was all there was to it (Tesla's planned urban SC rollout has been MUCH worse) they would have scored better but the placement has been horrific. 

Its quite obvious that EA is scrambling to play catch up desperate for host sites.  In my area when the entire Olympic Peninsula remains uncovered, they have placed two sites literally within 2 miles of each other in Everett WA. Why? mostly because that is how Walmart is. They swoop in and dominate the retail landscape and Everett was big enough to warrant more than one Walmart but 2 miles apart??? 

But that isn't even the worst example.  North Bend Outlets has been host to EVGO for years and soon, less than 200 feet away, EA will also be there!

Access is another story.  EVGO has dual format stations and although you can't queue your EV like Blink does, at least you have a parking space while you wait. Doesn't sound like much but its INVALUABLE on a busy weekend when the station is located at a mall or smaller parking lots where space is a premium. 

But EA doesn't seem to understand that.  I am sure you noticed the EA Albany site that has 4 stations and only 4 parking spots. Design oversight? Nope. 

Hope Arkansas EA Site. No queuing here!

Now is this simply piss poor planning from EA? Or is it site host restrictions? If the locations were up front, I could see Walmart having an issue with giving up too many prime parking spaces but every site I have seen so far is located far away from the front parking spaces (A lesson EVGO needs to learn!!)  In fact; the placement of the stations in non prime parking areas is the ONLY reason why EA didn't get an F.   In all the pictures and site visits so far, the thought of stretching a cord from an adjoining parking space in the next row is not an option either. It almost seems as if to ensure cheap and easy access to feeder lines, green space was selected over blacktop.  

Now, this is only phase one of four so holding out hope that things will improve with both location, access and balance but then again, the adage; "Its so bad, we can't possibly get worse" applies quite well here. 


Looks like I am not the only one unhappy with EA...


  1. this is a great article david. I won't be buying a VW ev when I get ready to upgrade on my 2015 Leaf.

  2. I too have been watching the EA network slowly evolve. Good article and eye-opening about the “dual chargers”.

    1. I am still more than a bit shocked there is not a lot more pushback over this. I guess we shall see after someone is blocked out from charging because a lone CCS EV took the only dual format station.

  3. This is exactly what I've been thinking as well. If they were happy to chatc emissions standards you can be certain they will be looking at ways to capitalise on $2bil investment. I'm wondering if they will be able to do something like limit 800V charging to their own vehicles and restrict everyone else to 400V. Just like CHAdeMO, they provided the charging, just their vehicles get an advantage.
    The other thing I'm seeing where I live is this nonsense about charging in 10-15 minutes at 350kW. While technically true, there is not one vehicle in production, and only one actually on the upcoming release schedule, that can even charge at 350kW. All the rest are about 100kW, maybe 150kW. And it's crazy if you got 350kW available but can only charge on one head at a time.

    1. Agreed. This is especially weird since the dual format machine is running 150 KW CCS or 50 KW chademo which assumes that 150 KW is available. Even with 100 KW EVs (coming but not here) there is more than enough power to run the chademo at the same time but that will NEVER happen simply because there is no place for the 2nd car to park!

    2. EA have stated that the chargers will provide 100kW ChadeMo, once testing is complete (but with no specific timescale on the testing process, afaict).

      The first 100kW ChadeMo vehicle gets its US launch at the end of November 2018.

    3. VW don't need to restrict everyone else to 400V - VW a.g. are the only vehicle manufacturing group even proposing to bring a 350kW car to market (Porsche Taycan, and its SUV variant)
      Even the Audi e-tron (now in production) is a 150kW vehicle.

    4. If chademo is increased to 100 KW, that would make a huge difference!

  4. EA seems to have approx. 180 chargepoints live with 7 to 8 weeks remaining. It looks likely that they'll manage to get 200 chargepoints live by year end.

  5. Dave, have you contacted the legal oversight body for VW's EA mea culpa? They need to know this information, and they need it NOW. Also, any installer who doesn't configure EVSE "charging only" spaces so that ancillary (even non-designated spaces) can park/charge adjacent is completely missing the boat. I love parking in a non-restricted spot and charging without concern for rushing back to my vehicle at completion of charge!

  6. Regarding the queuing of a second vehicle, I don't know why this keeps coming up as an issue. I haven't seen a single EA station - in photos or any one of the 4 physical ones I've visited, where it's physically possible to even park a second car within the cable range of a station. They are very clearly one charging head (with two plugs) per parking space. The two plug thing is a bit weird but does add some redundancy for damaged plugs, as well as different reach options depending on where the chargeport door is located.

    They should also fairly easily hit "200 plugs" by the end of 2018. There are a number of stations basically complete and just waiting to be turned up. The closest one to me now in Abingdon MD has 16 "plugs" alone and is all but turned on.

    1. I think you are defining "queuing" like we can do on a Blink station but queuing simply means parking so one can plug in when the other car is done. I FREQUENTLY see cars plugged in that have finished the charge. Despite these people not being considerate enough to move their cars promptly (it is a fast charger after all) I am still able to unplug them and get my charge started "anywhere" but at an EA station because without extra parking, that space is locked up until the car is moved.

      Now, if you think this is splitting hairs, wait til Black Friday and then decide how convenient it is to wait "somewhere" while a car that has completed its charge patiently waits for its owner to show up.

  7. Dave,

    I've been commenting on this too and no one seems to pick up on the obvious "brand neutral" statement of VW in the consent decree. I drive a CCS car now but the overt discrimination against CHAdeMO is a violation of the consent decree. Do you know any federal politicians or figures here in California we should take this up with? In the end, I am happy to get some more damn stations in, but this bias against CHAdeMO needs to be addressed.

    1. Paul, I am not that up on California politics so not sure who you would ask. As for me, I went to everyone I can associate with so my state representative and senator along with my national representative and senator.

      For the last several months I have been polling "the competition" when charging publicly and right now, other Teslas almost as much competition as other Chademo only cars.

      If talking Level 2, Tesla dominates those plugs. Granted part of it is none of the planned urban SCs in South Puget Sound region have been installed but...

  8. Dave,

    Came across this today: ELECTRIC VEHICLES
    Controversy splits EV charging group.

    not directly about the brand neutral question, but does take up the "poaching" of best sites.


    1. Paul; Although that did not generate the idea for my blog (I actually wanted to write it this past Spring but decided to wait and see if EA did something different in areas that were more "chademo-centric") it comes as no surprise to me.

  9. I suggest you comment at the next CARB meeting RE VW promoting its own interests above BEV drivers':

    "...California’s Air Resources Board held a public hearing last Friday on whether to approve Electrify America’s second cycle of proposed investments which would start in July 2019 but the board delayed a decision on approval until it’s December meeting...

    All of the location support DC charging using the CCS standard but include one cable that support the CHAdeMO standard used primarily by the Nissan LEAF..."

    1. Ed; I am afraid I am "CARBless" here in WA. We are so out of it here...

    2. Written comments due by 12/10, for the 12/13 CARB meeting, link below.

      Why don't you also post your comment above and this info at MNL?

      As you may be aware, I've been "BANNED FOR LIFE"...

    3. December 7, 2018 at 5:04 PM Comment above by edatoakrun, accidentally posted anonymously.

    4. Seriously? I find that hard to believe!... well, sort of. Actually not all that surprising. There seems to be a two way street there and beware if you happen to have an opinion that goes against the grain there!