Audi A1 e-trons make all the right connections in Munich
Audi has just flicked the switch on twenty examples of the electric A1 e-tron, bringing the remarkable 148mpg* premium subcompacts to life on the streets of Munich as part of an extensive pilot trial and data capture exercise.
The fleet trial project has been initiated by Audi, the power company E.ON, the public utility Stadtwerke München (SWM) and Technische Universität München (TUM), and will help these organisations to consolidate their thinking on the integration of electric power into day-to-day motoring, and to identify how the existing transport and communications infrastructure might need to adapt to support this.
E.ON and SWM are responsible for expanding and maintaining the charging infrastructure in the Munich metropolitan area, and have already installed a demand-oriented charging network there - SWM within the Bavarian capital’s city limits and E.ON primarily in outlying areas. All the electric ‘fuelling stations’ offer power generated via renewable energies.
This trial is part of a project referred to as "Electric Mobility in Munich as a Pilot Region", sponsored by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development. The Ministry is providing the region with some ten million euros for electric mobility. This project will address a number of issues, ranging from the power grid itself to data transfer between drivers, vehicles, and electric fuelling stations. For example, the use of a smartphone as a driver’s main interface will be examined.
"Audi works relentlessly on comprehensive approaches which maximise benefits to customers. In this era of electric mobility, we will offer our customers a wide range of services which go beyond driving itself. For example, the networking of vehicles with their surroundings and with infrastructure as well as new concepts of mobility will be important," emphasises Franciscus van Meel, Head of Electric Mobility Strategy at AUDI AG. He adds: "We want to use this fleet trial to learn more about our customers’ usage of electric cars, and their expectations in this regard. We are planning additional fleet endeavours in strategically important markets."
Close to 150mpg
The Audi A1 e-tron is a range-extender electric car with an output of 102PS and a top speed of 81mph. If the battery runs low on charge, a compact combustion engine – the range extender – recharges it as needed to boost the vehicle’s operating range to as much as 155 miles. This compact electric car is a zero-emissions vehicle for the first 31 miles of a trip – in city traffic, for instance. The battery comprises a package of lithium-ion modules mounted in the floor assembly in front of the rear axle. In short, the four-seat A1 e-tron was designed for daily driving in metropolitan areas. It offers ‘fuel economy’ of up to 148.7mpg, for a CO2 equivalent of just 45 g/km*.
As Ruth Werhahn, Head of Electric Mobility at E.ON AG, emphasises: "The fleet trial which started today will only add to the expertise we have been acquiring during more than ten pilot projects for electric mobility in six European countries. We have blazed new trails in the charging infrastructure. We have set up not only public charging points near large cities but also innovative charging points at multi-storey car parks in city centres. Drivers simply insert their parking tickets to use the charging points and then pay for their electricity along with the parking fee."
Home charging solution
E.ON has already developed commercially viable charging solutions for various scenarios. For example, it offers a package to private individuals in Germany that comprises renewable ‘green power’ and a charging box for use with electric vehicles at home. This is available subject to a safety inspection by E.ON of each customer’s electrical equipment to ensure that it can withstand the heavy loads associated with recharging an electric vehicle for hours.
E.ON also supplies charging stations open to the general public – primarily commercial customers. At these stations, two electric cars can recharge their batteries at the same time via different charging points. Magnetic-stripe cards grant drivers access. Both types of electric fuelling stations are being used in the Munich fleet trial. In addition, E.ON is fostering the continuous enhancement of charging technology by focusing on direct-current (DC) fast charging as well as cable-free charging.
Dr. Florian Bieberbach, Commercial Director at SWM, said: "We have been working with partners for quite some time on various projects concerning individual electric mobility. As the operator of streetcars and subway trains, we have more than 115 years of electric-mobility experience in public transportation. SWM is responsible for the charging infrastructure within Munich city limits; we also offer the green power which facilitates CO2-neutral driving. The foundation for this was laid by our Renewable Energies expansion campaign. We want to generate enough green electricity by 2025 to supply the entire Munich metro area with electricity. Munich is thus on pace to become the world’s first city of a million-plus inhabitants to achieve this ambitious goal."
During the project, TUM is collecting and analysing data on mobility, concentrating specifically on the situations in which people drive electric cars, the degree to which they drive them and how this technology will influence the use of other means of transportation. To answer these questions, the departments of Automotive Engineering and of Ergonomics have developed a mobile application that all fleet-trial participants can use on their smartphones. These devices will thoroughly document participants’ mobility behaviour, taking into account everything from electric cars and combustion-engine passenger vehicles right through to buses, trains and bicycles. At the same time, the Department of Services Marketing is conducting a study to ascertain suitable models for billing electric-mobility customers.
"For researchers, it is no longer a question of whether electric mobility will catch on, but rather when. Electric mobility constitutes a paradigm shift for companies and society alike. This fleet trial allows us to learn more about people’s mobility habits under a new set of circumstances," says Professor Markus Lienkamp at TU Munich’s Department of Automotive Engineering. "Insights from this project can then serve as the basis for worthy approaches to sustainable individual mobility."
*calculated as per the proposed standard for determining the fuel efficiency of vehicles with range extenders