Conveniently charged

The new Audi e-tron offers an ecosystem that includes various services and offers concerning the vehicle. One of these services will in future make charging in the city and on long-distance trips more convenient throughout Europe: the Audi e-tron Charging Service.

01/30/2019 Reading Time: 5 min

Power consumption combined *: 24.6-23.7 kWh/100km (NEFZ); 26.2-22.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂-emissions combined *: 0 g/km

Power consumption combined *: 24.6-23.7 kWh/100km (NEFZ); 26.2-22.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂-emissions combined *: 0 g/km

With the market launch of the Audi e-tron, the first purely electrically driven series model from the brand with the four rings, Audi is establishing a convenient charging system: the Audi e-tron Charging Service. With this new charging service, Audi is facilitating access to more than 70,000 charging points – initially in 16 EU countries – for all e-tron models (including the plug-in hybrid models). A further eight countries in Eastern Europe will follow. Johannes Eckstein, manager of e-tron product marketing at Audi, offers an insight into the electrifying charging service.

Audi e-tron Charging Service

We create an easy-to-use addition to home charging.

Johannes Eckstein, Manager Product Marketing e-tron

Editorial: What authentication possibilities does the Audi e-tron Charging Service offer at the start of the charging process at a corresponding charging point?
Johannes Eckstein:
We offer the customer – tailored to the needs of the charging infrastructure available at the time – various options for authentication: on the one hand, this works via the classic RFID card used as soon as an appropriate card reader is present at the charging point. Furthermore, QR codes, which are widespread in the field of payment, are an additional option. These can be scanned at the charging point via smartphone. Customers thus authenticate themselves on-site and the charging process is approved by the operator of the charging point and billed via the contract number in line with the respective conditions of the e-tron Charging Service.

That sounds like a straightforward operation. How complex are the pricing policies of the individual operators?
In this area it gets a little more complicated. We currently have around 250 operators of such charging points in Europe. Each of these operators has its own individual tariff for the electricity it sells. These rates currently vary considerably. Within the context of the Audi e-tron Charging Service, we have tried to minimise these variations – this means that we place all the charging points of relevant providers associated with the service at a market-specific unit price, if appropriate and possible, and structure the tariffs according to the power provided. We thus try to create the necessary transparency such that users of our service feel at ease when it comes to cost. We thereby create an easy-to-use addition to home charging.

Alongside the cost factor, speed is one of the aspects of charging that comes up frequently for discussion. Is the pace of development picking up in this area?
Yes, competition in this area is growing. Especially in the field of high-power charging on longdistance routes, there will be a few changes in the coming years. Anyone using the Audi e-tron Charging Service has, beside others, access to the fast-charging Ionity network. The Audi e-tron can today be charged with up to 150 kW as standard. It is thus ready for the next leg of its long-distance trip in around half an hour. In terms of rates, the following holds true: time is money. Fast charging will tend to be more expensive than slow charging because the corresponding infrastructure expenditure on the part of the operators is higher. However, the chances are good that prices will come down over the coming years due to stiffer competition, making electric mobility even more affordable. Driving with electrical power is already very attractive today in terms of cost. If the current is obtained at home, driving with electricity is already significantly cheaper than with petrol or diesel.

Audi e-tron

Power consumption combined *: 24.6-23.7 kWh/100km (NEFZ); 26.2-22.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂-emissions combined *: 0 g/km

Power consumption combined *: 24.6-23.7 kWh/100km (NEFZ); 26.2-22.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂-emissions combined *: 0 g/km

And further changes can be expected with regards the charging times, too: how far can these be minimised in future?
That depends on various factors. Infrastructure operators such as Ionity and other companies have already announced that, in the coming years, they will offer charging capacity of up to 350 kW based on so-called 1,000-volt voltage levels. For comparison: this is approximately one hundred times the performance of a conventional household socket today. If the vehicle is also equipped with the appropriate technology and can accommodate this charging capacity, a recharge of 15 to 20 minutes would be conceivable, depending on the battery size. Today, this corresponds to a short stop-off at a service station. In terms of charging times – as in so many areas that affect electric mobility – we find ourselves in a process that will see further improvements in the coming years. The first step is already complete because the roll-out of this technology has already begun.

Let’s turn to the charging infrastructure. Ultimately, the success of electric mobility is closely linked with the development of this, especially with regard to long-distance travel outside cities. How do you rate the present state of expansion for the charging infrastructure in Europe?
The charging infrastructure is progressing well in Central and Northern Europe. Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany are leading the way here. This now applies not only for urban agglomerations, but also on long-distance routes. In other words: for charging points on fast roads outside the cities. Of course, it isn’t just the number of charging points that is important, but also the charging speed. In my view, we are on the right path. We will press ahead with the expansion. A lot will happen here in the next two to three years.

Audi e-tron

Power consumption combined *: 24.6-23.7 kWh/100km (NEFZ); 26.2-22.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂-emissions combined *: 0 g/km

Power consumption combined *: 24.6-23.7 kWh/100km (NEFZ); 26.2-22.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂-emissions combined *: 0 g/km

The convenience aspect, for example, will continue to develop rapidly with the introduction of, say, Plug & Charge over the course of 2019.

Johannes Eckstein, Manager Product Marketing e-tron

What challenges does a Europe-wide project like this bring with it?
Because there is a uniform socket standard in Europe, there is no problem in this area. Where there is still room for improvement across countries is settlement. Do you bill in kilowatt-hours? Or in minutes? Or perhaps even per session? At the present time, the respective countries still have different regulations in terms of legislation. But there is a trend suggesting that this will level off to kilowatt-hours over the course of time. This corresponds to the price per litre for petrol and is the fairest calculation variant. We are taking the first steps using the e-tron Charging Service’s transparent tariff system where possible.

Are there other areas in relation to the charging service that will see a change in the coming years?
The convenience aspect, for example, will continue to develop rapidly with the introduction of, say, Plug & Charge over the course of 2019. This service requires neither a card nor a smartphone for authentication at the charging point. With Plug & Charge, the vehicle and charging point communicate with one another directly via the power cable and exchange all the required information regarding the charging process. The prerequisite is, of course, that the charging point in question supports this technology. It is likely that, in a couple of years, we will look back on today’s payment systems for electric vehicles with a wry smile. The possibilities in this area are by no means exhausted. But even here, it is important to take things one step at a time.

myAudi Portal

The myAudi portal plays an important role in the ecosystem surrounding the vehicle. What function does it assume for the Audi e-tron Charging Service?
Digital integration is very important to us. It provides the required transparency in this area – quickly and straightforwardly. Following a one-off registration, it will be possible via the  myAudi Portal to conclude the necessary contracts for the Audi e-tron Charging Service. These can of course also be viewed there. You will also find all the information about the charging processes. These can thus be tracked, and monthly invoices can be consulted. 

Electric mobility involves numerous exciting and multifaceted topics. To conclude, let’s have another look at the areas that will enjoy extra attention in future. Where do you still see potential for expansion?
In the area of charging, it will be about further optimising the operation. A convenient time frame and reduction of the stay times through improved capacity, accurate route planning – perhaps with the ability to pre-book charging points along the route – and convenient access to the corresponding charging points play an important role here. In this respect, we must also bear in mind the infrastructure around these charging points. We will also take a closer look at what services the customer could use in- and outside the vehicle during the charging time. Electric mobility is and remains fascinating.

Johannes Eckstein
Johannes Eckstein, Manager Product Marketing e-tron wants to push the electrification of mobility at Audi.
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