Twenty road-ready Audi A1 e-trons came to life on the streets of Munich as part of a pilot project undertaken by Audi AG in partnership with E.ON, the Munich municipal utility company Stadtwerke Munchen (SWM) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM).
All 20 examples of the battery-powered 'Mega City vehicle' (MCV) will be operational by mid-2011 as participants in the "eflott" project, which forms part of the "Model Region Electromobility Munich" initiative sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Transport.
Powered by 200 newly installed charging stations, the cars will enable experts to address a number of issues, from the data transfer between the driver, vehicle and electric filling station to the power grid and the use of smartphones as the central interface for the driver.
Delivering an output equivalent to 102hp, the floor-mounted lithium-ion battery in front of the rear axle powers it to a top speed of 81mph and gives a range of more than 31 miles in city traffic. From start up it is classified as a zero emissions vehicle over this distance. A compact internal combustion engine recharges the battery when its energy is depleted.
A small, single-rotor Wankel engine in this near-series production vehicle increases the range in exceptional circumstances. This "range extender" powers a generator that produces 15kW of charging power. If the range extender is used to recharge the battery, the A1 e-tron can cover an additional 124 miles. According to a draft standard for the calculation of fuel consumption for range extender vehicles, this represents a fuel economy figure of 148.7mpg, equating to a CO2 output of only 45g/km.
E.ON and SWM are installing the necessary charging infrastructure; E.ON primarily in the outlying areas and SWM in the Bavarian state capital, Munich, itsef. The two utility companies are initially installing a total of 100 "electric filling stations" each as part of a variety of projects. All of the charging stations are supplied with electricity generated from renewable energies.
The Technical University of Munich is responsible for comprehensive data collection and evaluation of mobility behavior. Its experts will monitor how heavily, and in which situations the electric car being used, and what influence this option has on the use of other means of transportation.
To answer these questions, the Department of Vehicle Engineering has developed a mobile application that will be provided on a smartphone to all participants of the fleet trial. The device will document their mobility behavior - from their use of bicycles to the electric cars and from conventional cars to buses and trains. To ensure that the participants always use the smartphone, the Department of Ergonomics made sure that the application features an easy-to-use design that encourages use over the long-term.
At the same time, the Department of Marketing is conducting a study to discover which billing models for the electricity used for e-mobility meet with the greatest acceptance.
The fleet trial is being supported by the German Federal Ministry of Transport as part of a publicly-funded project. Federal Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer comments: "Electromobility is not an abstract technology issue. At its core is the question of how the transportation systems of the future should look. We are therefore funding electromobility under real-world conditions in our model regions - a large field test, so to speak. Projects like these provide us with important insight into how to make electromobility a success, both in the city and in rural areas. In the Munich model region, we are providing approximately ?10 million in funding for electromobility. Our goal is clear: We want to make Germany the lead market for electromobility and put at least one million electric vehicles on German roads by 2020."