SUVs are the hottest segment of the new car market, not only in the US but in every country around the world. As of this moment, there is one electric SUV on the planet — the Tesla Model X — and it is not actually in full production yet. According to Green Car Reports, Audi wants to rectify that situation with its Q6 e-tron, which will have a 95 kWh battery and at least 250 miles of range. It is due in showrooms by 2018.
Audi executive Reinhard Hofmann told members of the motoring press recently in Tenerife, that Audi is working with other as yet unnamed car makers to build a network of high power charging stations to service the needs of the Q6 e-tron and other electric cars. He says Audi and the others have committed to using the CSS system for their network. “By the launch date (2018), charging power will be increased to 150 kilowatts.” That’s enough power to recharge a 95 kWh battery pack to 80% capacity in 30 minutes or less.
The goal, he said, would be battery recharging that does“not take any longer time than refueling.” That’s what we need for true “long-distance mobility with high convenience.” Ideally, recharging would eventually be even quicker and more convenient than filling up at the nearest gas pump. Hofmann hinted that chargers with as much as 350 kW of power may become available in the future.
(Full disclosuer: You know you are a “real” automotive journalist when you get invited to press conferences in places like Tenerife. The rest of us are just bloggers working out of our parents’ basement.)
There are a couple of flaws in Hofmann’s vision, however. As of this moment, no one knows who will build Hofmann’s dream electric charging infrastructure, how much it will cost, or who will pay for it. To make matters worse, in order for several manufacturers to share one charging system, they will need to share information about battery management systems and other technical issues.
Can’t you just see BMW inviting Mercedes to come over and see what the Bavarians are up to? How about General Motors calling up Ford and Chrysler and offering to spill the beans about its latest charging software? Yeah, it could happen. But it’s not bloody likely, now is it?
Several Volkswagen Group executives like fuel cell engineer Rene von Dorn have been heard to say that VW is “a car maker, not an energy supplier. We are not interested in [providing] any fueling infrastructure, except for demonstration projects.” Meanwhile, Tesla is moving forward aggressively to expand its SuperCharger network of high power charging facilities. By the time the others get their act together, Tesla will have a 5 to 7 year head start on the competition.
Good luck selling all those new electric cars the other manufacturers plan to have on the market in 3 to 5 years. If there is no charging infrastructure in place where customers can recharge their electric cars quickly and conveniently, who do they think is going to buy them?