Audi criticized for the latest concept: why it missed an opportunity

Audi’s concept of charging hub for electric vehicles arouses the skepticism of the analyst who believes that the car manufacturer could have taken the concept further.

While the rapid growth in sales of electric vehicles is increasing the demands on charging infrastructure, it has also sparked some new ideas.

An example is Audi’s recently opened charging station in Nuremberg, Germany, where the Volkswagen Group subsidiary is conducting a pilot project to measure customer demand for this service.

Located in the exhibition center, the hub offers bookable high-power charging points, which, unlike many public locations, are covered to provide protection against the weather.

The hub is expected to attract owners of electric vehicles that do not have access to charging at home.

A total of approximately 80 vehicles can be loaded per day without reaching the hub capacity limit. The solar panels on the roof of the hub provide up to 30 kilowatts of green energy per day.

The hub can be reassembled and disassembled in a few days, Audi said in a statement.

For Audi customers, the charging process begins by accessing a reservation function through the myAudi application, with an encrypted authentication process that takes place automatically when the charging cable is connected to the vehicle.

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“Wasted opportunity”

While Gartner analyst Pedro Pacheco called the new concept, which was launched on December 23, 2021, a “great initiative”, he also sees it as a “slightly wasted opportunity”.

“People don’t like to wait for their cars to load, it’s annoying and it’s a hassle. The best experience you can offer is to spend your time in a useful way, with the possibility to work in an office with fast Wi-Fi or entertainment in a leisure trip.

Pacheco does not see this happening at the Audi charging hub, which he calls “pleasant”, but perhaps not at the premium standards his customers would expect.

“I understand that the price is a limitation – you can’t have a three-star Michelin restaurant – but it’s about experience,” he said. “The concept could have been taken further.”

Audi also offers on-site services that exceed the charging of electric vehicles, including a replacement station for electric bicycle batteries, a loan service for electric scooters, as well as driving tests Q4 e-tron and RS e-tron GT2 , supervised by Audi staff.

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For Boyd Cohen, CEO of startup mobility services Iomob, the big question is whether Audi really sees a future in this type of investment or just wants a way to use the concept as a short-term offering to attract new customers. .

“I do not think he is trying to solve his anxiety. They are trying to make a statement that they are a luxury brand and that they care about your shopping experience, even if 0.1% of buyers will ever experience that, ”he said. “It seems more like a branding thing.”

He added that the premium electric vehicle segment will continue to find ways to differentiate itself and that carmakers will try a variety of concepts, but a dedicated, brand-specific charging hub can be difficult to scale significantly. .

“I don’t think that’s the answer, I think the answer is about the range and speed of loading, not the dedicated infrastructure around your vehicle,” Cohen said.

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