Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen brand Board Member responsible for E-Mobility, says: “As one of the world’s largest automakers, Volkswagen is going to force the pace of the urgently needed transport and energy transition to emission-neutral e-mobility. The new company will play its part with energy offerings from renewable sources and smart charging solutions. This way, we are entering a strategically relevant, extremely exciting business area that offers considerable opportunities for strengthening ties with existing customers as well as accessing entirely new customer groups.”
Thorsten Nicklass, the CEO of Elli, is the executive who is responsible for all services related to green power and smart charging. “Our goal is to enable our customers to charge their electric cars in the same easy way that they charge their smartphones,” Nicklass says. Surveys have found that many drivers shy away from the idea of switching to an electric vehicle because of worries about finding charging stations, he notes. “We intend to ease these fears,” Nicklass says. The new offer will initially focus on Europe.
“Climate protection is our motivation”
The first product being offered by Elli is CO2-neutral green power from Volkswagen. The electricity is generated by hydro-electric plants in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. It can be ordered on the website elli.eco. “Climate protection is one of our chief motivations,” Nicklass says. “When we think of future generations, we realize that we have to act now.” For this reason, all Elli employees will use electric cars to meet their transportation needs. “E-cars are a must for us,” the CEO says. Whenever possible, employees will use trains to make business trips and avoid planes.
With the first service offered by Elli, Volkswagen is giving its customers an opportunity to significantly improve the carbon footprint of their electric cars. Buyers of the compact Volkswagen ID.* will be able to travel in a completely environmentally conscious manner. There is a good reason for this as well: The entire production process at the plant in Zwickau, Germany, including the supply chain, will be CO2 neutral. High energy efficiency and the use of green power will make it all possible. Unavoidable emissions will be offset by investments in forest protection or afforestation.
Electric charging stations at home
Elli plans to quickly offer other services after Volkswagen’s green power makes its debut, Nicklass says. Right in time for the launch of the ID. family, Volkswagen will work with Elli to offer “Volks-wallboxes” that can be used to charge cars at home. While the car can be charged on the normal 230 V grid with 3.7 kilowatts (kW), the wallbox for the ID. and other electric cars will work with charging power of up to 11 kW. If the power socket at home is designed for such power input, then the battery can be completely charged over night.
“With our wallboxes, anybody can set up his or her own electricity charging station in the garage or carport”
Customers are not the only ones who will profit – neighbors can benefit as well. “With our wallboxes, anybody can set up his or her own electricity charging station in the garage or carport,” Nicklass says. Customers who have bought a wallbox can simply set their own rates and let other car owners use the unit to charge their own vehicles. “And, of course, they can give away power to friends and acquaintances,” Nicklass says. Current research indicates that most drivers of an ID. will have to charge their cars just once a week because most commuters do not have to travel more than 50 kilometers a day. About 50 percent of all charging will be done at home, Volkswagen analyses shows.
80,000 charging stations in Europe
For customers of the Volkswagen Group confronted with charging while on the go, Elli will provide electric charging cards that can be used to receive power at approximately 80,000 stations throughout Europe. The charging stations will be located in front of supermarkets, furniture stores and Volkswagen dealers, among other places. A number of them have already been set up. Many others will be built. Elli is looking for sites where people congregate anyway. As a result, they could charge their electric cars without waiting – while doing such things as shopping.
“Volkswagen has a major opportunity here: Many people will get to know our company not just through their cars. For the first time, they will also come in contact with us during the positive charging experiences they have at home, at a company parking lot or during their leisure time,” Nicklass says. An app will continuously show drivers where the nearest charging station is located. Other services, like a reservation function for charging stations, are being planned as well.
Elli is also focusing on companies that are converting their fleets to electric vehicles. “Business customers want individual solutions that will help them charge their electric vehicles as cheaply as possible or assign the costs to different departments,” Nicklass says. Elli intends to offer tailored options that will enable companies to benefit from those times of the day when electricity rates are very low, among other things.
Intelligent energy transition
The CEO stresses that Volkswagen will use Elli not just simply to position itself as a provider of electricity. He says the company intends to become an active player in the energy sector as well. Its plans include fast, smart 22 kW wallboxes that will work in both directions – that is, they will also be able to feed power back into the grid. This is a sensible approach because power is increasingly being generated by decentralized sources and fed into the system at rates that vary according to the weather. As a result, there will always be times when more or less power is generated than necessary.
Bi-directional power flow in cars, homes and the power grid to create a smart grid will be able to better take these factors into consideration. The concept has a fixed place on Elli’s agenda. “By taking this approach, we will link mobility, energy and digitalization,” Nicklass says. “Our electric cars will help create an intelligent energy transition.”
The Volkswagen Group is planning to invest more than € 30 billion in electrification. By 2025, the Group’s brands plan to increase the number of their all-electric cars from six today to more than 50 – including the entire ID. family of the Volkswagen brand based on the new MEB electric platform.