Ripping a page from Tesla’s playbook, Audi this week announced that, starting this fall, customers will be able to place refundable $1,000 deposits for the company’s brand new, and first all-electric, 5-passenger SUV: the e-tron.
Until the new vehicle makes its global debut in San Francisco on September 17, though, customers will have to wait for details. In the meantime, Audi of America president Scott Keogh is setting expectations high, saying “We’re introducing a premium, customer-centric vehicle in a premium, customer-centric way.”
The e-tron is expected to be delivered to showrooms in the first part of 2019. With nearly 30 percent of its customers in the U.S. anticipated to go electric by 2025, the e-tron will be the first of three battery-electric vehicles that Audi plans to debut by 2020.The all wheel drive e-tron is expected to carry a 95 kWh battery; assuming 3.5 miles per kWh, drivers should reasonably expect well more than 300 miles of range on a single charge.
And when drivers do need to charge away from home, the e-tron will fill up at a rate of up to 150 kW using CCS-format DC fast chargers. This translates into an 80% charge, or more than 250 miles, (from empty) in about 30 minutes.
What does it mean to charge at 150 kW? A kW is a measure of energy used in a given instant, while a kWh is a quantity of electricity consumed or stored. Using a car analogy, you can think of kW as your speed, and kWh as your distance traveled. And for a sense of magnitude, a typical LED bulb consumes less than 10 watts, while 150 kW is 150,000 watts.
Filling at a rate of 150 kW means that the e-tron can take on 150 kWh per hour, assuming maximum flow. (DC fast chargers do slow when the battery’s state of charge exceeds 80%, so automakers try to achieve 80% as quickly as possible; a typical metric is 30 minutes.) To charge a battery that can store 95 kWh to 80% from empty, the charger must deliver 76 kWh (80% of 95 kWh). Doing so in 30 minutes requires an hourly rate of 152 kW (76 kWh per half hour and 152 kWh per hour).
Other than Tesla’s proprietary network, nearly every DC fast charger in America today tops out at 50 kW, though Electrify America’s intercity corridor network will be built with 150 kW chargers. As vehicle capacities increase, today’s stock of DC fast chargers will have to be replaced with more powerful units. Fortunately, much of the cost of installing DC fast chargers is the initial construction; upgrade costs are certainly not insignificant, but these should be greatly reduced if the original construction contemplated eventual improvements.
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