Hopefully, these hubs will make it to the United States soon.
Over the last couple of years, automakers have steadily improved the quality of their electric vehicles. They've slowly become more attainable, too: the Audi Q4 e-tron starts at $49,900, not much more than the slower and less powerful Audi Q5 40 TFSI at $43,300. But the appeal of a great EV can be undone by an inadequate charging network. In May, Ford CEO Jim Farley was frank about the Blue Oval's underperforming charging network.
To mitigate faulty chargers, a strain on the power grid, the inability to charge your EV at home, or a lack of sufficient public chargers, Audi introduced a new charging hub concept last year. Following a positive pilot phase, Audi will now continue to roll out these clever hubs that come with several distinct advantages.
Audi's charging hubs are self-sufficient and sustainable, and include unique charging cubes that serve as the energy storage system. These cubes can be quickly and easily assembled or disassembled, and power is stored in recycled lithium-ion batteries. These batteries come from test vehicles that have been dismantled.
The first charging hub in Nuremberg, Germany, has turned out to be a great success. Between January and April this year, Audi said it registered 3,100 charges at the site. That works out to an average of about 24 charges at 800 kWh every day. While charging, customers can take advantage of a 40-square-meter terrace and a premium lounge area, which Audi says attracted an average of 35 visitors every day. Notably, Audi says that about 60% of charging sessions were from repeat customers, indicating that the majority reacted positively to the charging hub.
Following this successful pilot phase in Nuremberg, Audi will open a second charging hub in downtown Zurich, along with hubs in Salzburg and Berlin. Germany will welcome more hubs in 2023 and mid-2024. Although the concept is still operating on a small scale at this stage, it would be encouraging if these hubs could expand outside of Europe to help manage the need for more chargers, while simultaneously reducing the strain on the grid.
"The numbers and positive customer feedback demonstrate that our concept of offering flexible, premium quick-charging infrastructure in urban spaces was spot on," said Ralph Hollmig, Audi charging hub project manager.
As the pressure mounts on the industry to improve charging infrastructure, creative charging solutions like Audi's hubs will become more crucial. Until charging your EV is as reliable and easy as topping up with gas, conventionally-powered cars will continue to be the only option for many commuters.