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If you’ve experienced charging an EV before, you’ll know it can be a less than glamorous experience. Presently, most EV owners are forced into an awkward, distant corner of a car park, usually exposed to the elements. Here’s how Audi plans to change that while recycling spent batteries in the process.
Audi calls this concept the charging hub – a modular and portable charging station which is made up of ‘Powercube’ modules, consisting of second-life battery packs.
The brand says as the Powercube locations are self-contained in terms of high-voltage DC power, they do not need to rely on local power infrastructure. This means they can be placed almost anywhere where they can draw 200kW from the grid – as the brand’s representatives put it: “a little energy trickles in at the top, but a lot can be fed into vehicles”.
In total, the system can hold up to 2.45Mwh of power, enough to charge 70 vehicles at a rate of 300kW daily. Audi says most charging infrastructure capable of such feats would require connection to the grid in the megawatt range.
“We’re not looking to become an infrastructure provider, but we’re keen for partnerships [to make the Powercube concept a reality], we want to be able to use existing locations but not be dependent on pre-given electric infrastructure,” Oliver Hoffman, a board member of Audi’s technical development department, explained.
As well as being free of the grips of high-end infrastructure, the Powercube system is pitched to have a lounge installed atop where it has enough modules to support it. Audi claims there is no comparable charging concept on the market right now, and the lounge is focused on “giving the customer time back”.
“We want to solve the uncomfortable problem of charging solutions today,” the brand’s representatives explained, saying a preliminary version of the Powercube system is to start trials in Germany imminently.
“The lounge will let you watch a movie, have a coffee. We also think it will be a place where you can conduct meetings,” Mr Hoffmann explained, whilst also noting the 300kW projected output exceeds the max charging rate of its upcoming e-tron GT which can charge at a rate of 270kW, allowing a 5-80 per cent charge time of 23 minutes, or "the time it takes to have a coffee".
Mr Hoffmann explained that the the brand would allow ‘everyone’ – not just Audi customers – to charge up at the Powercube hubs, although as the lounge is a “premium” experience, we doubt it would be available to non-Audi customers.
As for a rollout strategy: Mr Hoffmann said it would be dependent on learnings from the trail of the first concept site in Germany, so some time off for markets outside of Audi’s home.