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Charging at the Plant

The charging infrastructure in Wolfsburg is being improved for all employees. 200 charging stations have been set up in the parking lots by Ramin Salahschur and his team.

He pulls the plug out of the charging station and carefully coils up the yellow charging cable. Ramin Salahschur is pleased. This is one of the last charging stations that he and his team from the Strategic Transport Planning department had planned for the employees at the Wolfsburg site. That makes a total of 200 charging points to date in just four months.

Salahschur has been holding the reins for this charging station project for a good two years, since back when the parking lots around the plant only had four charging stations for employees to use. But times have changed. "This is exactly what our pilot project for Wolfsburg is all about, creating significant improvements for employees," reveals Salahschur, who holds a degree in business and has been with Volkswagen since 2002. Over the last few days, he has successfully completed the first stage of the project in Wolfsburg. The next stage is to roll this out across other sites throughout Germany.

"The ball is rolling and the other sites now have a better idea of what we’re working toward," he explains, referring to initiatives in Kassel, Braunschweig, and Salzgitter. He has established a network at these sites in a bid to improve the charging infrastructures for employees on a wider scale.

Late summer 2017 was when it all kicked off in Wolfsburg, with excavation and electrical work for a dozen charging stations. The work started in the west parking lot, which offers over 5,100 parking spots, followed by the parking garage south of Research and Development. Over 10,500 employees can park their cars in the parking garage, making it by far the largest parking facility at the site. 50 wall charging stations are now available on the second floor of the parking garage. These are known as "Wallbox" units, which people may already be familiar with from some garages.

A Wallbox is a small, greyish-blue box that functions like a power outlet. Simply plug in the charging cable on the left or right and the e-Golf1 or Passat GTE2 is connected to the power network. This design means that every Wallbox can supply two parking spaces. Slowly but surely, the remaining parking lots around the Wolfsburg plant will be following suit.

Charging posts at the Wolfsburg plant

"First thing in the morning is the best time to find a charging station – simply look for the sign with the plug and the blue "e-Station" sign for a good chance of finding a place to park and charge."

First thing in the morning is the best time to find a charging station – simply look for the sign with the plug and the blue "e-Station" sign for a good chance of finding a place to park and charge. The parking spots with charging points are reserved for electric cars. No exceptions. "If a vehicle with a combustion engine parks in one of these spots, we’ll be ready and waiting to tow it away," explains Salahschur. The same zero-tolerance policy also applies to other parking offences.

So that means priority parking for employees commuting in an e-Golf, e-up!3, or Passat GTE plug-in hybrid. But anyone else with an electric car is free to charge up here, too. Since the charging infrastructure is also funded by the "#Wolfsburg Digital" project, the charging stations are open to the public. Volkswagen is working closely with the local authorities to develop Wolfsburg into a digital model city. What’s more, the charging station project is all part of the brand’s strategy to become the global market leader for electromobility.

The charging power is known as "Volkswagen Naturstrom" (natural electricity) and is generated from hydropower. The charging process itself is a piece of cake. It can be started, ended, and even paid for using either a Charge&Fuel card or a smartphone app – simply plug in, hold up the card, charge up, stop charging, unplug, and that’s all there is to it.

"This is a convenient and appealing option for all employees, whether they live in Wolfsburg or commute from further afield," observes Salahschur. "The network around the plant is set to expand even further very soon." Excellent prospects for employees who either already drive an electric car or are thinking of getting one – drive to work, charge up, and head home with a full battery.