The biggest shift to electric driving is how we power our journeys. That’s why when developing its rapidly growing e-tron model range – from the Audi e-tron SUV and Audi GT e-tron sports car to the new Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback – Audi made charging a core design process.
Based on its 40-year ethos of “Vorsprung durch Technik” (or “progress through technology”), Audi has developed advanced subcutaneous e-tron technology that provides greater range and faster charging times – as well as in-car navigation and intelligent Phone app that makes finding and paying for charging easier. Going forward, Audi is even reimagining the “gas station of the future.” How are they doing that.
Easier charging starts with having more range. Lithium-ion batteries are the most advanced and reliable type currently available for electric vehicles, and Audi continues to hone the technology to make batteries more efficient to provide greater range, while being smaller and lighter to enhance the car’s performance.
Beyond that, Audi has developed technology to make electric driving more efficient without changing the way you drive. Take regenerative braking, which uses friction in the electric motor to work with the brakes to slow the car while redirecting unused energy back to the battery. In Audi e-tron models, you can choose the level of regeneration that suits your driving mood or type of journey, ultimately recovering up to 30% of the range from coasting and braking.
So the 82kWh battery used in the new Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback provides up to 323 miles of range.
Once you have the range, it also depends on how you use it. And, in most cases, we don’t actually need as much range as we think. For example, 95% of UK journeys are under 25 miles. That means, with the Audi Q4 Sportback Sport 40 e-tron’s 323 miles of range, you can complete 12 such trips on a single charge.
Most Electric Vehicle charging tends to take place while your car is parked at home or at work (the average UK car is actually at home 80% of the time), it’s great for slow charging when your car is idle – also helpful if you use low-cost overnight electricity, you can save on driving bills.
For long trips, 300 miles is the distance from London to Carlisle: this kind of trip takes 5 to 7 hours and can’t be done without a lunch or coffee break – providing the perfect stopover to stretch your legs and give your battery charge. So it’s easy to see how the Audi e-tron, with its more advanced battery and greater range, can fit charging around your life, not the other way around.
For petrol and diesel drivers accustomed to filling their tanks quickly, the prospect of finding a charging station and incorporating charging time into the journey is a natural problem. That’s why charging speed matters.
It all boils down to the engineering under the Electric Vehicle skin. The higher the voltage, the greater the “oomph” and the faster the electricity moves. For context, traditional petrol and diesel cars use 12V batteries to power basic electricity, while more advanced plug-in hybrids use 100V-200V systems designed for slow home charging or 7kW to 22kW fast public chargers.
The all-electric Audi e-tron and Audi Q4 e-tron are equipped with a 400V electrical system, allowing them to use fast public chargers, which can be charged up to 125kW on select models. On the new Audi Q4 Sportback Sport 40 e-tron, you can charge from 5% to 80% in just 38 minutes, or add 80 miles of range in just 10 minutes.
The Audi e-tron GT takes charging to another level. Using next-generation 800V technology and super-fast charging of up to 270kW, it can add 62 miles of range in about 5 minutes, or can charge from 10% to 80% in just 20 minutes. That’s hardly enough to find, buy and drink a cup of coffee.
The UK’s charging network is growing rapidly. According to ZapMap, there are currently 26,000 charging devices in more than 16,000 locations in the UK and counting. (For comparison, there are only 8,380 gas stations). Charging speeds are also improving, with nearly 20% of devices being fast or ultra-fast chargers that can dramatically increase range in just a few minutes.
But how do you find the right charger for your needs: whether it’s a slow charge while you’re having lunch, going to the gym or in a meeting, or a quick five-minute charge to get you on the road again.
This is where Audi’s intuitive, forward-looking in-car navigation really stands out. In Audi e-tron models, charging is integrated directly into the software – proactively identifies charging stations on your route and highlights those covered by the Audi e-tron charging service.
Using the myAudi smartphone app, you can remotely plan routes and charging stations even before getting in the car. On Audi e-tron models, the myAudi app allows you to remotely check your battery level and tell you how far you can go on a charge. If you do need to top up on the go, the myAudi app can help you plan your route ahead of time – incorporating charging stations into your route and combining it with traffic data and expected charging times to calculate accurate arrival times.
If you leave the car while charging, the myAudi app will notify you once the charging target has been reached. Additionally, since using air conditioning in an electric vehicle can affect its range, you can use the myAudi app to preset climate controls to warm or pre-cool the interior to the correct temperature when plugged in – making sure you set the the best range and a cool or comfortable cabinot.
Even better, if you forgot where to park your car to recharge (and we all did!), the myAudi app can guide you back there on foot.
While public charging stations are getting faster, more common, and easier to find, there are still a ton of different charging providers to choose from, each with its own payment method. Some offer exclusive subscriptions; others use expensive pay-as-you-go. This is equivalent to having a different credit card for each supermarket chain.
That’s why Audi makes navigating the charging network even easier with its e-tron Charging Service. Using a contactless payment card or the myAudi app, it provides easy access to thousands of charging points from 18 UK suppliers, including major suppliers such as Instavolt, PodPoint and Ionity.
You can choose between two simple fixed-price tariffs (flexible monthly “City” and a 12-month annual contract “Transit”) that allow you to roam freely with Audi e-tron charging service partners. Even better, it also works in Europe. And since all partner charging stations covered by the Audi e-tron charging service are integrated into the navigation system of your Audi e-tron models, you will be able to quickly find the charger that suits your needs.
Finally, Audi is looking to the future of charging. As more all-electric models start to use more advanced 800V electrical systems, the ability to use ultra-fast charging speeds in excess of 150kW for faster mobile charging will only increase. That’s why Audi is a key stakeholder for Ionity: a charging supplier focused on developing a larger and broader network of ultra-fast charging points.
There are currently over 370 Ionity sites in Europe – 16 key locations in the UK – and the network continues to grow rapidly. Each Ionity station has an average of six charging points. Combined with charging speeds of up to 350kW, it helps allow more cars to be plugged in, charged and driven again faster.
Audi is also rethinking the “petrol station of the future” with a vision to create an innovative modular lounge-style Audi charging centre. It uses the secondary batteries of old electric vehicles for efficient local electricity storage — giving those batteries a new recycling use — while also offering super-fast charging speeds. Meanwhile, drivers can take a break in the upstairs lounge for a quick snack or coffee. Who said charging is difficult?
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