The Volkswagen Group has announced plans to offer an agile shuttle service under its new Moia brand. The company also intends to launch 30 electric vehicles (EV) by 2025, including a five-door hatchback and a seven-seat microbus. These initiatives are core to the company’s aim to transition from being just a carmaker to becoming a broader sustainable mobility provider under its ‘TOGETHER – Strategy 2025’ programme. However, despite financial incentives, EV uptake remains weak, partly due to consumer concerns about the sparse, fragmented charging infrastructure. Given Volkswagen’s clear e-mobility ambitions, it stands to reason that it has taken a share in Hubject, which is developing a common platform for charging stations in Europe.
According to a statement by Volkswagen: ‘Hubject founded in 2012 by BMW, Bosch, Daimler, EnBW, innogy and Siemens, provides EV drivers with easy access to charging stations as well as payment solutions. Almost 40,000 charge points on three continents are already available on this platform.’ Thomas Sedran, Head of Group Strategy at Volkswagen AG said: ‘We have set our sights on becoming a globally leading provider in the field of sustainable mobility. With our investment in Hubject we are supporting the digital transformation and making an important contribution to the transition to the era of e-mobility.’
Mapping an increasingly extensive network of charging stations enables consumers to locate their nearest facility. Coupled with a standardised payment system, this should help to resolve the problem of some charging stations being under-utilised. However, some parking bays with charging stations are occupied for longer than necessary and Tesla is taking a controversial approach to tackle this problem. A release by the company on 16 December states: ‘The Tesla app allows owners to remotely monitor their vehicle, alerting them when their charge is nearly complete and again once fully charged. For every additional minute a car remains connected to the Supercharger, it will incur a $0.40 idle fee. If the car is moved within five minutes, the fee is waived.'
The Tesla statement continued: 'To be clear, this change is purely about increasing customer happiness and we hope to never make any money from it.’ However, this is rather disingenuous as, even with the app alerts, it is inevitable that drivers will not always be able to move their cars in time and so Tesla will make money.
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