Volkswagen envisions a future in which cities are peppered with power bank-like mobile charging stations that keep electric cars topped up quickly and conveniently. The German firm sees its mobile charging station as a useful piece of technology that adds an important degree of flexibility to the charging infrastructure.

The mobile charging station works just like the portable chargers that millions of people use daily to keep their smartphone juiced up on-the-go. Volkswagen explains its prototype delivers DC quick-charging at speeds of up to 100 kilowatts, and it can charge up to four cars simultaneously. The station has a capacity of 360 kilowatt-hours; in simpler terms, it stores enough electricity to charge up to 15 electric vehicles, though it can also charge e-bikes if needed as well.

When it’s out of electricity, it needs to be plugged into the power grid like any other battery-powered device. Volkswagen hasn’t released charging times yet. It notes that the stations can be configured to take wind- or solar-generated energy, however.

Making a mobile charging station that doesn’t need to be connected to the power grid has several advantages. First, and most obviously, it lets electric car owners get a charge even if they’re 100 miles away from the nearest outlet. On a secondary level, the mobile charging stations can also help city planners pinpoint the best location to install permanent stations. They can move Volkswagen’s charging stations around to gather data on where they get the most use. “Mobile” is relative, though. The stations aren’t sealed in cement, but they weigh as much as a car so moving them requires a truck equipped with a crane. Don’t expect to strap one to your e-Golf’s roof rack to triple its driving range.

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The first mobile charging stations will appear in early 2019 in Volkswagen’s hometown of Wolfsburg, Germany. They will be set up as part of a pilot program in urban areas of the city. Volkswagen will expand the program to other cities and communities in 2020, when it starts regular production, though it hasn’t revealed if or when we’ll see them in the United States.

The stations will bolster the massive electric car offensive Volkswagen will launch when it releases the production version of the ID concept in 2019. The Golf-sized and -priced hatchback will not be sold in the United States, Digital Trends can confirm, but the firm’s subsequent electric models (including a retro-inspired van previewed by the ID Buzz concept) will reach American showrooms.

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