How much does Audi see the future being electric? Well, with plans to include EV charging stations at 1 out of every 10 parking spaces at its German factories by mid-2022, Audi seems to think this is where we’re headed. True, that’s mid-2022 not mid-2020, and it’s only 10%, but I don’t know any other auto company with 10% of its parking spaces being electrified! Also, for a sense of just how enormous this initiative is, make sure to get to the bottom paragraph blockquotes.
Workplace charging is a big help everywhere, but I think it is particularly important in Europe, where more people live in large apartment blocks and don’t have home charging. In fact, I think workplace charging is one of three fundamental pillars in the EV charging easel, along with home charging and superfast charging for road trips. (You could potentially throw on charging for customers at stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and other medium-stay service destinations — which are what I rely on for charging ~90% of the time — but I don’t think they have the same fundamental, critical importance as the other three.)
To emphasize that this is newsworthy, Audi pointed out that this is actually the biggest EV infrastructure rollout from a German employer. In total, there will be more than 4,500 charging points installed. For some perspective, when I head over to PlugShare and zoom in on Los Angeles, one of the top cities in the world for electric vehicle adoption and charging infrastructure, PlugShare tells me there are 271 public charging stations there. (Just note that charging stations typically have two or more charging points.)
Audi’s main factory in Ingolstadt will be home to 3,500 of the charging points. Another 1,000 will be at the Neckarsulm factory. There will be “just under 100 in Brussels and Győr” as well as charging infrastructure at Audi’s facilities in San José Chiapa, Mexico.
As noted in the headline, Audi is planning to put $100 million into all of this EV charging infrastructure. (Kudos to whoever wins those contracts.)
Perhaps the most interesting thing about all of this is how long it’s been in the works — for 4 years! Here are some more details: “A charging concept on this scale is unique in Germany so far – and requires meticulous preparation and largely independent energy management. A separate project team has therefore been preparing and structuring the concept for the implementation since the middle of 2017. The fundamental decision to electrify ten percent of all parking spaces was already made a year earlier. ‘Such lead times are necessary because the planning and expansion of the energy supply on this scale alone takes multiple years,’ explains Huber. Carrying out the setup during ongoing production at the locations is a particular challenge.
“The project team is responsible for planning the entire strategy, investment, and concept, and manages the setup and operation of the charging infrastructure as well as the billing of charging procedures at the Audi sites. In this context, the charging points are expanded to suit the needs of the employees and other people using the parking lot, the charging infrastructure is designed accordingly, operating rules are set, and a hotline and support are provided. Recording that complies with calibration law and invoicing of the charging procedures are further important aspects.
“At the sites in Brussels, Ingolstadt, and Neckarsulm, charging infrastructure with a total power input of 21 megawatts is already available. This corresponds to the power consumption of a small town with 14,000 inhabitants. This includes 600 charging points with an output of up to 22 kilowatts (kW) and 60 direct current charging points with an output between 50 and 350 kW. By the middle of 2022, there will be 4,500 charging points, each with an output of up to 22 kW, and approx. 50 more with an output of up to 350 kW each at the plant sites alone. A dynamic and intelligent load-management system will be controlling all power input across sites this year already, so the power connection does not need be expanded.
“In addition, there is the equipment of the three Audi Training Center locations at Munich airport. Audi’s largest individual charging park with a power input of 2.1 megawatts is connected to the grid here. In connection with the construction of the new ATC IV building, the solar power generated is used for the charging procedure in combination with a battery buffer storage device. ‘It’s not just about energy supply, though,’ says Huber. The project team has also created its own navigation map on the basis of Google Maps that allows employees to see in real time where charging terminals are available. Invoicing via online systems and the integration in an internal settlement system are further important services.”
This is quite an impressive corporate EV charging project. It’s gigantic. Yes, it’s “only” 10% parking spots, but you can see what kind of massive investment, planning, and power capacity is needed in order to reach 10%.
If Tesla announced such a plan, the interwebs would be going kaboom with enthusiasm of it. Audi’s initiative deserves a similar level of enthusiasm, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I think that’s out of the question, since the news broke approximately 10 days ago and I just barely noticed it a couple of days ago and nearly missed covering it.
Images courtesy Audi AG
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