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VW says no to battery-swapping stations in the US

by Ronan Glon

The company could invest in the technology in China, though.

Volkswagen is busily developing a range of electric cars previewed by the various I.D.-badged concepts. It's also making investments to increase the size of the charging infrastructure in the United States, but it doesn't consider battery-swapping stations a viable option for Americans.

"From an engineering standpoint it's clear: Don't do it,” Christian Senger, Volkswagen's head of e-mobility, told Digital Trends in an interview.

Part of the issue comes from how the battery is integrated into the chassis. It's part of the car's structure, which means it's installed in a way that makes removing it easier said than done. And, taking out the battery means disconnecting the cooling system, which must be done without losing too much of it. None of these issues are insurmountable, but Volkswagen believes it makes more sense to invest money in better battery technology and more charging stations than building an electric car with a removable battery pack.

The situation is different in China, where several companies are looking into battery-swapping stations to keep electric taxi cabs on the road around the clock. Volkswagen could join the market there.

"The [Chinese taxi industry] now has this battery-swapping system. It's a clever concept; sometimes it's housed in shipping containers. The car drives in and gets a new battery pack. It's extremely flexible. We are looking at how relevant this is for our market success in China, but I don't see it for the rest of the world," summed up Senger.

Note: Volkswagen I.D. concept pictured. Photo by Ronan Glon.