EPA To VW: Build Electric Cars Here?
German newspaper Welt am Sonntag is reporting that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approached Volkswagen asking the German carmaker, that also includes Audi and Porche, to build electric cars in America as a way to rectify its "dirty diesel" misdeeds. Late last year, the company was finally caught cheating on its diesel engine emissions. While the cars met air pollution standards during dynamometer tests, on the road each engine generated 40 times their allowable emissions, producing more pollution than 20 full-sized pickups.
Reporting on the Sonntag (Sunday) story, Reuters notes that the German paper did not cite any sources or get confirmation from either the EPA or VW. Reuters states "EPA was asking VW to produce electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles in the United States." If the report is true, there is no indication as to whether they would build their current EV, the e-Golf, or a new model.
If it's the latter, then a good candidate would be the BUDD-e van concept the company unveiled at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early last month. According to the Paul Tan website, it's the "first car to be based on the new Modular Electric Platform (MEB) designed specifically for plug-in vehicles." Billed by Volkwagen as what electric mobility will look like in 2019, he writes:
The MEB platform will enable a production car to have pure electric range that is on par with today’s petrol-powered cars, and the time required to charge the batteries to 80% of capacity is anticipated to be reduced to about 15 minutes by then.
Equipped with 101 kWh lithium battery mounted under the floor board, two electric motors, one to drive each axle, offers all-wheel-drive and a top speed of 150 km/hr. Driving range on a full charge under the NEDC drive cycle is estimated at 600 km or 372 miles.
The 100-plus kilowatt hour pack would be the largest available in a passenger vehicle. Assuming a $150/kWh production cost by 2019, the pack would run just over $15,000. Recharge time is reported to be as little as 15 minutes, though that would likely require DC fast charging at high voltage and amperage rates, and probably only to 80 percent state-of-charge. Presumably, VW would have to price the 'Bus' in the $30-40K range to be salable, but in the $60K-range to be profitable.
Other options would be shifting e-Golf production to US or commercialize several of its more interesting small electric car concepts, including the e-UP and the NILS urban runabout pictured below.
With some 600,000 Volkwagen TDi "dirty diesels" polluting America's air and no resolution yet in sight, requiring the company to make amends by producing electric cars and building charging stations seems only fair, but obviously it won't be easy.
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