If, as the media are firmly convinced, the German automakers’ EV strategies revolve around competing with Tesla, they will have to come up with an answer to the ascendant Supercharger network.
The Europeans recently took a step in this direction with the formation of the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN). Audi, BMW, Daimler, Opel, Porsche and Volkswagen, together with a couple of charging equipment manufacturers, including ABB, are promoting technical standards for the Combined Charging System (CCS), and working to increase its capabilities.
At the recent ELIV Congress in Baden-Baden, Audi told reporters (via Green Car Reports) that it will offer a DC fast-charging network for buyers of its Q6 e-tron, which is scheduled to arrive in 2018. The electric Audi is expected to have a 95 kWh battery pack offering at least 250 miles of range, and that means that CCS will have to raise its game in order to keep charging times around 30 minutes. Current CCS chargers are limited to 50 kW of charging power, while Tesla Superchargers pump at 125 kW.
By the time the Q6 plugs in, Audi plans to have a fast charging network up and running, at least in Germany, and power levels are heading upwards. “By the launch date, CCS charging power will be increased to 150 kilowatts,” said Audi executive Reinhard Hofmann. “Our customers will want long-distance mobility [and] we have to think of our customers without a garage.”
The goal, said Hofmann, is to make recharging even quicker and more convenient than filling a legacy vehicle with fossil fuel. He also hinted that, in the longer term, power levels could be increased to as much as 350 kW.
Many details of the future DC charging network remain to be “fully fleshed out,” Hofmann acknowledged. It’s likely that the automakers will bring in other partners to build and operate the network. “We want to go on developing cars, not infrastructure,” said Hofmann.
However, it seems certain that Audi, at least, sees charging as mission-critical. “The success of [Audi’s EVs] will depend on the charging infrastructure.”