The availability of proper charging infrastructure will be crucial to the success of carmakers' transition to electric in the next few years. While a push for policy-based changes to our cities is still fundamental, luxury brands are exploring different charging solutions to integrate into a broader luxury experience for the owners of their (rather expensive) EV cars.
Audi, for example, is currently launching a pilot program to test what the company calls a modular charging hub. The hub is an EV charging station with an integrated lounge, where car owners can relax with snacks and refreshments while their car is undergoing a charging cycle. While the lounge aspect could draw most of the attention, the modular and sustainable nature of the project is what makes it really stand out.
Hubs won't be drawing power straight from the grid. Instead, each hub will use so-called Cubes mostly made out of recycled car batteries. The cubes will provide an "interim storage of roughly 2.45mWh" to six charging stations with a single charging output of up to 300 kW. Each station only needs a standard 400 volt high-voltage hook-up, thus making complex high-voltage infrastructure unnecessary. Moreover, thanks to their modular structure, hubs can be installed and moved around quickly, without worrying too much about the capacity of local electric networks.
Audi is currently looking for a location in Germany to install its first hub during the summer. The plan is to start its operation by the end of 2021. In the first phase Audi "will test what the optimal technical solution is in a very realistic way", says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board for Technical Development of Audi AG. In the beginning, Audi's charging stations won't be limited to the owner of Audi EVs. Drivers of cars from other brands will be able to use unreserved charging stations reserved and parts of the lounge.