Volkswagen is starting a company called Elli, short for Electric Life – but it’s not an all-new electric car brand. Think of it as an energy company, aimed at providing carbon-neutral power across a diverse network of charging points.
There is an automotive link, however. VW is addressing the leap customers need to take when buying an electric car. With current infrastructure on the road network and, indeed, at our houses, electric cars aren’t quite as ‘plug and play’ as we’d like. In the case of many residences, it’s more ‘lob an extension cord out the window’.
With that in mind, consider the following statement from Elli CEO Thorsten Nicklass: “The name ‘Elli’ stands for ‘electric life’ because we intend to enable a lifestyle that fully integrates the electric car in people’s everyday lives. This approach could be compared with the use of a mobile phone, which is taken for granted nowadays.
“We will be creating a seamless, sustainable ecosystem that addresses the main applications and provides answers to all the energy questions raised by electric car users and fleet operators.”
The intention is to help prospective customers ‘upgrade’ their lives around their electric car purchase.
Elli wants to help put charging points at homes and workplaces, as well as across Volkswagen and VW Group dealerships. Fleet charge points (for company cars) and chain outlets are also on the radar. In Elli’s ideal world, there will be a unified charging infrastructure from your garage to your workplace, and where you’re going to eat or go shopping.
At present, VW employee car parks have 1,000 charging stations. That will increase to more than 5,000 by 2020. All 4,000 dealers throughout the EU will receive similar charging provisions by 2020.
There is also scope for energy management. That means communication across a network of car chargers that can, for instance, manage charging network-wide so that minimal strain is put on the local power grid. Your car can also be used as an energy storage unit and give power back to the network into which it’s plugged. Cars will even be able to take in power via their solar charging systems and add it to the grid.
Thinking about it now, electric car proprietors taking such an active role in upgrading the infrastructure makes an awful lot of sense, rather than leaving it to local authorities and governments to make it happen.
Companies like Elli and schemes like VW’s mobile charging systems will surely proliferate in the coming years.