If the Volkswagen group’s electric vehicles equipped with the 77 kWh battery are identical on paper, they differ significantly in reality. Explanation.
For its arrival in the electric car segment, Volkswagen has developed a specific MEB platform. Shared with all the group’s brands, they make it possible to multiply the mechanical configurations, certainly multiple, but always common. However, while the datasheets are identical, the installed units clearly differ. And if customers are not misled about the merchandise, some are better off than others. This is what we observe when examining the technical sheets of certain models: for the same battery capacity, in this case the 77 kWh unit, three levels of fast charging power are indicated. A typo from the intern? No way !
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Because to never run out of batteries in its various factories around the globe, Volkswagen has increased the number of suppliers. Thus, the Volkswagen group has surrounded itself with CATL, LG Chem and SK On to equip its electric cars based on the MEB platform. A strategy already used by Tesla, and which tends to become widespread among many other manufacturers. But when others have different suppliers depending on battery capacities, the Volkswagen group can offer up to three different 77 kWh batteries depending on the models, mechanical configurations and markets, as confirmed to us by the various engineers that we encountered during our tests.
A capacity of 77 kWh, three different batteries
If the technical sheet is formal, these batteries are however very different. The LG Chem battery is made up of NMC712 chemistry pocket cells. CATL and SK On, for their part, chose prismatic cells, with NMC822 chemistry for the latter Korean manufacturer. On the other hand, the assembly is similar between all the packs, with 288 cells divided into twelve modules and with a 96s3p architecture. However, there may be slight deviations in voltage and electrical charge. This explains the barely more generous useful capacity (nearly 79 kWh) with the SK On battery. Note that if the latter begins to arrive at our home with the ID. Buzz in particular, it has existed for some time now in the United States in the floor of the Volkswagen ID.4.
But that’s not the only difference, since these three batteries have distinct rapid recharge times from each other. Only installed in models equipped with two electric machines (Quattro, 4Motion, GTX, etc.), the LG Chem battery has a peak of 175 kW for a recharge time of 36 minutes. Still according to the technical sheet, the CATL battery caps at 135 kW (10-80% in 29 minutes), while the SK On climbs to 170 kW for typical refueling in 30 minutes all round.
However, in reality, the differences are widening further. To begin with, note that all presented power peaks higher than those announced with 139 kW for the CATL (compared to 135 kW officially), 180 kW for the LG Chem (compared to 175 kW) and 187 kW for the SK On (compared to 170 kW). kW). And against all expectations, it is the version with the lowest charging power that completes the exercise the fastest. Proof that the single power peak announced can be misleading, and does not represent the ability of a car to recharge quickly.
Test – Volkswagen ID. Buzz: consumption and autonomy measured in our Supertest
Especially since, even if we take into account the quantity of electrons actually recharged in the battery between 10 and 80%, the average recharge power is to the advantage of the CATL battery: we measured a value of 124 kW, compared to 123 kW with an SK On (10-80% in 28 minutes) mounted on the Volkswagen ID.Buzz. Of course, the difference won’t change anyone’s life, but it exists. On the other hand, the difference is considerable with the LG Chem battery, which peaks at an average power of 102 kW over the typical exercise, where the equipped vehicle will remain immobilized for 33 minutes according to our observations.
On the other hand, the ranking is reversed for a complete recharge (which is rarely the case during rapid recharges while traveling), since the SK On battery demonstrates an impressive ability to retain power until the end. Thus, it only requires 18 minutes of additional downtime, compared to 29 minutes for CATL for example. So, an ID. Buzz only needs 46 minutes to refuel, barely five minutes more than a Kia EV6 with a 77 kWh battery!
|SK On (VW ID. Buzz)
|LG Chem (Audi Q4 Quattro)
|CATL (Skoda Enyaq iV)
|10->80 % (min.)
|10->100 % (min.)
|May. average 10-80% (kW)
|May. announced peak (kW)
Differences that are not explained to customers
If it was particularly difficult to see clearly at the beginning, the technical sheets for the group’s different models are now more transparent. Just reading the peak power allows you to see things more clearly, and to know very quickly the origin of the battery installed in the vehicle, even if the useful capacity of 77 kWh is strictly identical.
Except that there is no precise explanation for the customer, who might not understand why their car does not recharge as quickly as their neighbor’s. To date, no technical reason has been communicated to us to explain these obvious discrepancies. Also, we could wonder about the longevity of this or that battery, which is ultimately different in many aspects. The future will tell.
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