Audi will expand its urban fast-charging hub concept to 13 more sites in the next three years, following the success of a pilot project – and hasn’t ruled out a larger international expansion, potentially including the UK, in the longer-term.
The firm opened the first semi-permanent site, which features six 320kW fast chargers and a lounge, in Nuremberg, Germany last December. The hub draws power from the local grid and roof-mounted solar panels, with the energy then stored in ‘power cubes’ that contain second-life batteries taken from electric Audi test cars and offer around 2.45mWh of storage.
The six charge points can be reserved for 45-minute slots – secured via a barrier that is lowered on entering a code on arrival into the Audi app – and the 200 square metre lounge features toilets, vending machines, a bookable meeting room and a terrace.
Ewald Kreml, who leads strategy for the charging hub, said that it had been developed to offer “a premium experience” for high-powered charging in suburban areas, and was aimed at the 60% of urban EV buyers with no access to home charging. The Nuremberg location, close to a park and convention centre, was chosen because it is between residential areas and the city centre.
“Our research shows that the biggest reason people are reluctant to switch to EVs is a lack of public charging points, and that a frustration of EV drivers is having to queue to charge at peak times,” said Kreml.
“There are queues at chargers that have a utilisation rate as low as 15%, so allowing people to reserve helps spread that demand.”
Since the site opened in December, more than 3600 charges have been made, an average of 24 a day, while more than 5400 visitors have used the lounge. In total, 54 vehicles were charged on the busiest day and Kreml said the site could cope with 80. The site is open to all EVs, although Audi drivers – who get exclusive access to the lounge – account for around half of visits.