Following BMW’s lead of putting fleets of prototype electric vehicles on the street, Audi has just released 20 examples of the electric A1 e-tron. While this is smaller than Mini’s program with the Mini e, it will bring the 123mpg subcompacts to life in Munich as part of an extensive pilot trial and data capture exercise.
The fleet trial project has been initiated by Audi, power company E.ON, public utility Stadtwerke München (SWM) and Technische Universität München (TUM). It’s hoped that data from these vehicles will help the organizations better understand the integration of electric power into daily motoring.
E.ON and SWM are responsible for expanding and maintaining the charging infrastructure in the Munich area, and have already installed a demand-oriented charging network.
This trial is part of "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 fueling stations. For example, the use of a smartphone as a driver’s main interface will be examined. The Audi A1 e-tron is a range-extender electric car with an output of 102hp and a top speed of 81mph.
If the battery runs low, a compact combustion engine – the range extender – recharges it as needed to boost the vehicle’s operating range to as much as 155 miles. The 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 in front of the rear axle. The four-seat A1 e-tron was designed for daily driving in metropolitan areas. It offers ‘fuel economy’ of up to 123mpg, for a CO2 equivalent of just 45g/km.
E.ON has set up not only public charging points near large cities but also innovative charging points in parking lots. Drivers simply insert their parking ticket to use the charging points and then pay for their electricity along with the parking fee.
The company has already developed charging solutions for the home. 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.
E.ON also supplies charging stations for the general public – primarily commercial customers. At these stations, two electric cars can recharge their batteries at the same time. Magnetic-strip cards grant drivers access. Both types of electric 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.
SWM has been working with partners for quite some time on various projects concerning individual electric mobility. As the operator of streetcars and subway trains, they have more than 115 years of electric-mobility experience in public transportation. SWM is responsible for the charging infrastructure within Munich city limits.
During the project, TUM is collecting and analyzing data on mobility, concentrating 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 transportation.
To answer these questions, the departments of Automotive Engineering and Ergonomics have developed a mobile app that all fleet-trial participants can use on their smartphones. These devices will document participants’ behavior, taking into account everything from electric cars and combustion-engine passenger vehicles 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.