Borderless e-mobility: through Europe with the Audi e-tron

The Audi e-tron accepted a new challenge: in 24 hours, it drove through ten countries. Find out how a long journey with the Audi e-tron works in practice and why electric mobility “made by Audi” passes the long-distance test with flying colors.

08/26/2019 Reading Time: 4 min

The display behind the steering wheel shows a remaining range of 70 kilometers. It would be good to find a gas station soon. Or, to be more precise, a charging station — Johannes Eckstein is on the road with an Audi e-tron. From Amsterdam to Lake Bled in Slovenia. And he’s making the trip together with 9 journalists who are putting the e-tron to a new test: driving through ten countries in 24 hours. And it’s a stress-free trip — with no worries about charging or fear of getting stranded on the side of the road. But the e-tron convoy is in the backcountry of Belgium. How are they supposed to find the next charging station? And will they find it in time?

Eckstein, an e-tron expert, stays relaxed. He has already driven straight through Germany with two small children in the back seat to get to a family gathering — and he trusts the electric car on the long haul through Europe. That trust is based on the car’s range: more than 400 kilometers, according to the WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure).

Finding the right charging station in time

The e-tron’s route for this extreme tour is already planned out, including all the charging stations. With the e-tron route planner in the  myAudi-App or the charging station map on the e-tron Charging Service, it didn’t take long. The homepage was used to map out the legs of the journey and the seven charging stops along the way. “We deliberately chose somewhat longer distances to showcase the use of an efficient driving style,” says Eckstein. By carefully choosing an appropriate driving speed for the specific situation, the driver of an electric car might well be able to reach their destination more quickly than someone who drives fast. That’s because the reduced power consumption saves valuable time at the charging station.

But even if the e-tron’s driver doesn’t plan the route in advance, he won’t get stuck on the side of the road with an empty battery as long as he pays attention to the Audi´s virtual cockpit. The Audi virtual cockpit provides constantly updated information about the current charge levels. And it gives directions to the next charging station with touch or voice commands.

How quick charging works and which connector fits

The CCS2 connector definitely fits throughout Europe.

Johannes Eckstein

Eckstein takes a look at the Audi virtual cockpit and knows where the next quick-charging station is waiting — in just a few kilometers. He quickly makes a turn to head to the IONITY quick-charging station. The other two electric cars that have joined him for the tour through Europe follow along. Charging stations are often casually referred to as electric gas stations or “e-gas stations”. But charging an electric car has little in common with filling up a standard car.

Eckstein unlocks the quick-charging station with a standard RFID card. “I could also scan a QR code with my phone to sign in,” he explains and points to the QR sticker. “In Europe, the CCS2 charging connectors are standard,” Eckstein says, as he connects the cable to the charging station. CCS2 stands for Combined Charging System and is used by the majority of car manufacturers.In China, the USA, and Japan, other connectors are standard, but “the CCS2 connector will definitely work anywhere in Europe.”

Electricity flows into the electric car’s battery. The high-powered charging system with 150 kW makes the wait at the e-gas station considerably shorter. Both the high-powered charging station and the Audi Virtual Cockpit show clearly which power level is being used for charging, how many kilowatt hours have been charged at this stop, and how full the battery currently is.

What makes the quick-charging station unique

Eckstein compares the charging power of the quick-charging station to a pressure washer. “The electricity from a standard charging station, on the other hand, flows with about the same power level as a standard faucet.” Because the electric car adjusts the charging power according to its current needs, there is no risk of overloading the battery. The quick-charging station itself is equipped with cooled cables that can hold up to the high power levels.

After half an hour, the Audi e-tron’s battery has gone from nearly empty to 80-percent SOC (State of Charge); it is fully charged in less than 50 minutes. This charging curve is especially advantageous for long-haul driving — the electric car is quickly ready for the next leg of the journey. The battery’s high capacity, battery management, and smart thermal management are also important factors. The Audi e-tron, and its passenger Eckstein, are ready to continue the trip.

How the e-tron Charging Service works

The Audi e-tron Charging Service combines range with simplicity. Customers get access to a current total of over 107,000 charging stations throughout Europe with just one contract and one card. When concluding the contract, the driver can choose from a variety of different tariffs, depending on the preferred method of charging.  Customers can sign in to the charging stations with an RFID card or with the myAudi-App. All charging services are automatically invoiced together at the end of the month. Customers can use the myAudi Portal to view their charging processes and current invoices, as well as manage their contracts, at any time.

 

The e-tron extreme tour through Europe in numbers:

The e-tron extreme tour through Europe in numbers:

1,695 km

traveled in total

More than

107,000

charging stations with the e-tron Charging Service

7

charging stops from the Netherlands to Slovenia

Conclusion after 1,695 kilometers through Europe with the Audi e-tron

As Johannes Eckstein climbs back into the car after charging, he’s already looking forward to the mountains. “The Alps — with their steep, narrow roads and the amazing recuperation that the e-tron gets during the descent, are the highlight of the route for me.” The route goes from the low elevation of the Netherlands over the Rhine Rift Valley in the Alps and on to the high-altitude Pokljuka plateau in Slovenia.

After nearly 1,700 kilometers and seven stress-free charging stops, they’ve made it: the Audi e-tron has passed the long-distance test. And Eckstein has arrived at Lake Bled in Slovenia.

After this tour, the e-tron expert is sure that electric cars will soon be used for long-distance travel in Europe without a second thought. “Right now, a handful of new IONITY charging stations are installed each month in Europe,” says Eckstein and continues: “What seems like a bit of an adventure right now will be a matter of course in a year or two.”

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