Audi tests urban EV charging hub with included customer lounge
Not all drivers looking to ditch the combustion engine in favor of battery-electric drive have ready access to chargers at home. We've seen a number of novel solutions proposed for on-street charging – including plug-in lamp posts and flat and flush charge points – but Audi is toying with the idea of installing urban charging hubs with an included while-you-wait entertainment lounge to serve its EV customers. And the first pilot project opened for business yesterday at the Nuremberg Exhibition Center.
It's not the first charging hub we've seen. LA-based Xos recently introduced a mobile charging station for fleet operators, and Porsche offered a track day charging solution before that. But the inclusion of a plush customer lounge sets the Audi idea apart.
The Audi charging hub is made up of container-based cubes, each hosting two fast-charging stations and second-life EV batteries (which have been sourced from electric test vehicles). This makes the setup fairly flexible, but the pilot project in Nuremberg has about 2.45-MWh of onsite storage capacity and is connected to existing green power infrastructure to continually fill up the battery banks. Solar panels on the roof of the installation are reckoned to add up to 30 kW to the system.
The hub includes six 320-kW fast-charging points that can be reserved ahead of arrival via a companion mobile app, and the facility is capable of topping up around 80 vehicles every day "without reaching the limits of the energy storage system’s capacity combined with the hub’s 200-kW power input."
A swivel arm is on hand at each charging point to help EV drivers with charging cable handling, and for the duration of the pilot there will be an Audi employee on site to see to customer needs.
By way of example, charging an e-tron GT four-door coupe from 5 to 80 percent is reported to take a little over 20 minutes. And customers can spend that time in the luxurious hub lounge that sits atop the container cubes.
Inside the spacious lounge, drivers are treated to comfy-looking seating for work or relaxation, a 40-m2 (~430-sq-ft) patio area, an in-lounge shopping experience, and huge screens showing Audi model configurators, information about how the hub works and what's on offer, and even details on the charging status of plugged-in vehicles.
There's no mention of toilet facilities but a "just-in-time delivery service for food" is available, together with a battery exchange station for ebikes, an e-scooter lending service, and electric vehicle test drives supervised by company experts.
At this stage, the pilot project is aimed at Audi EV drivers only and only certain models will be able to take advantage of the full charging experience. The duration of the pilot hasn't been revealed, but Audi will monitor things like peak usage times and customer experience to inform future developments.