Charging Infrastructure – A Chat with Industry Experts
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Sophia has been with Audi for more than 10 years, helped launch the Audi e-tron and coordinates topics such as e-mobility, sustainability and CO2 compliance for Audi sales in Europe. Hans-Peter has a strong background in energy and resides close to Zurich in Switzerland. His employer Agrola is a Swiss service provider of energy solutions, its history stems from selling fossile products. The latest developments in e-mobility and Hydrogen demand Agrola to take a closer look at these services, Hans-Peter is responsible for all service station business including the development of these innovations. Wulf himself is the founder and CEO of DXBe Management, a 60 head strong consulting specialist for global mobility solutions. His clients range from European fast charging provider IONITY to US American and Australian mobility companies.

What are the key success factors for a successful breakthrough of e-mobility and charging infrastructure?

With approximately 80 percent (some say almost 90 percent) of all charging being done either at home or at a charging station at work, the breakthrough of e-mobility will be driven by supporting individual households as much as their employers to build charging solutions. These drivers are in fact rarely dependent on using charging infrastructure ‘on the road’.

Hans-Peter: “But when these drivers of electric vehicles really need a charging station on their travel, we think that accessibility is key. It includes instant access to the charging station itself, making sure that there is no queue waiting. For us at Agrola, convenience is also a major factor. This is why all our currently built and planned fast chargers have a roof on top, we always build a shop and toilets next to these and we make sure that security with clear lighting and camera surveillance is always guaranteed.” A plus for EV charging outside urban centers is the availability of further shopping facilities, such as garden centers.

For Wulf, the dominating factor for a successful fast charging center is based on availability of lots of traffic. Most providers have started looking for these locations. He cites a Norwegian fast charging station as an example which is based in an industrial zone, complemented by supermarkets and other shopping facilities. Tesla, IONITY and several local charging providers built fast charging stations there, Tesla alone built more than 100 fast charging points and still: "if you go for a visit during the day you’ll discover: they are all busy!"

For these fast chargers, the panel made clear that the right location and its attractiveness make or break it as the driver for success. It is about location, location, location – a slogan that was initially created by the real estate industry.

A good example for the relatively fast roll-out of fast chargers in the past years in Europe is IONITY with over 400 charging stations that were built along major European highways. They offer a high-speed charging capacity of up to 350 kW with an average of six charging points per station. Today, most European governments are trying to catch up in terms of fast charging stations. In Germany alone, by 2023, charging stations with a capacity of over 150 kilowatts are to be built at 1,000 additional locations with government funding.

Fast charging plus convenience – the new Audi charging hub

With Sophia from Audi on stage, it was great to look at an announcement, the German car manufacturer made with an investment into its own fast-charging stations. The reference for these charging stations for sure is Tesla with more than 2,000 Tesla Superchargers already operating across Europe. Audi’s solution looks like a cube and will be rolled out after extensive tests in 2024 with an integrated lounge to be booked for meetings in the charging breaks. These Audi charging hubs can be set up virtually anywhere because they are not dependent on the local power grid. Used lithium-ion batteries from dismantled vehicles are given a second life here as buffer storage.

If you’d like to learn more about the chances for hydrogen in heavy duty trucks, the importance of synthetic fuels and bio-fuels or which role the current industry can play in this context, do listen in on the audio file of our clubhouse talk. Here is the link to the audio file on Youtube - provided by the Institute of Mobility - in German language only.

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