Volkswagen Previews Aero Sedan, Studies Grid Integration For Electric Cars

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We have known that Volkswagen intends to offer a slippery sedan and station wagon variant based on the MEB platform for some time now. While there have been several teaser sketches and design studies, until now there have been none showing the sedan in near production trim. That all changed this week when the company released official sketches of the Aero sedan. The actual car will be revealed on Monday in China, where the Aero is expected to go on sale in the second half of 2023.

The corresponding production model for the North American and European market will be presented in 2023, the company says in a press release. Production of the series version of the ID. AERO for the European and North American automobile market will take place at the Volkswagen factory in Emden. Volkswagen hasn’t announced when it expects to being production of that car in Europe.

Since the new sedan is based on the MEB platform, we can expect the car to have a choice of a 58 kWh or a 77 kWh battery. However, with its svelte styling, it should be more aerodynamically efficient than its ID.3, ID.4, and ID.5 cousins, which will help it have more range. Volkswagen says the new concept car “impresses with its outstanding aerodynamics, elegant design and generous space.” It calls the car an “electric limousine.”

Volkswagen Aero
Image courtesy of Volkswagen

Keep in mind that in April, Volkswagen said it plans upgrades to the MEB chassis that will allow a range of 700 kilometers (WLTP) and charging speeds of up to 200 kW. There is speculation the size of the battery would need to increase to make those projections possible, although the company has not acknowledged that fact as of yet.

Volkswagen Grid Integration Trial Begins

Volkswagen renewable energy
Image courtesy of Volkswagen

Elli, the wholly owned EV charging division of Volkswagen Group, and Mitnetz Strom, one of the largest energy distribution companies in eastern Germany, have now launched a nationwide pilot project for smart grid integration of electric vehicles. In the first step, around 20 drivers of Volkswagen models ID. branded vehicles are involved in research designed to show how electric cars can be part of the energy system of the future and utilize more renewable energy in the EV charging process.

An algorithm developed by the companies uses price incentives to compare the cars’ charging plans with regional electricity output from renewable energies and the available capacities in the distribution grid. The resulting flexible grid usage is intended to reduce the frequency of bottlenecks in the power grid and create financial benefits for participants.

“With this project, we are demonstrating for the first time how electric cars can be synchronized with the power grid in a user-friendly way. The car becomes a rolling electricity storage unit for the grid operator. For drivers, financial added value is generated via price incentives,” says Niklas Schirmer, vice president for strategy at Elli. “By making the electricity demand of EVs more flexible, more renewable, regionally generated electricity can be used.”

“Together, we are supporting the energy and transport transition locally and investing in the energy future. E-mobility and the energy industry are working hand in hand here. EVs can run on green electricity and relieve the strain on the power grid where it is particularly needed. We can prevent bottlenecks in the local grid by using newly developed software to allocate charging processes for electric vehicles to the available grid capacities. The concept now provides us with important insights into whether our approach is customer-friendly,” adds Dr. Michael Lehmann, head of process and system management at Mitnetz Strom.

The results of the pilot test are expected in the fall of this year. To learn more, visit the European smart charging website. In essence, the program is designed to meet the criticism often heard on lunatic right wing media outlets that electric cars will crash the electrical grid.

That might have some validity if every EV driver plugged in to a charger at the same time, just as the public water supply could be overwhelmed if everyone decided to draw a bath at the same time. But people don’t all plug in at the same time and digital controls can alleviate any concerns about overloading the grid.

In fact, there is a lot of renewable energy that gets wasted because there are not enough customers for it. In 2020, about 6,200 GWh of green power had to be curtailed in Germany. Some of that excess could be put to good use charging electric cars. Volkswagen is helping to design the systems that will make that possible.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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