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Audi pilots rapid EV charging hubs with premium lounge areas

While battery range for electric vehicles has reached the point that most drivers don't need to worry about running out during daily commutes and errands, they still need to recharge on longer trips. To prevent charging infrastructure from becoming a bottleneck for rapid EV adoption, the Biden administration's American Jobs Plan includes USD 15 billion for building a national network of 500,000 charging stations. Automakers are getting in on the game, too — Audi just unveiled its plans for a modular rapid charging station.

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According to research by Deloitte, consumers' concerns have shifted from focusing on price premiums to prioritizing driving range and a lack of sufficient charging infrastructure, "reflecting the possibility that they are starting to see EVs as a realistic option and are considering the practicalities of ownership."

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The German carmaker's rapid charging hubs will deploy used lithium batteries for energy storage, which can charge during off-peak hours and feed EVs during the day. This eliminates the need for high-voltage lines when installing hubs, and allows them to be easily moved to new locations.

Audi drivers will be able to reserve charging slots and access an upstairs lounge area while waiting for their car's battery to fill up. Drivers of other brands are welcome to use available bays and access part of the lounge, but won't be able to make reservations. The first pilot station will open in Germany in the second half of 2021.

With Audi aiming to add 20 fully electric models to its line-up by 2025, no wonder the company is considering infrastructure, too. Instead of viewing EV charging as a necessary evil, Audi is using it to provide a customer experience that adds to the brand's premium appeal. (Tesla is reported to be thinking along the same lines, having recently filed a new trademark for restaurant services.) As for non-automotive brands — every charging station comes with a temporarily captive audience. How could you brighten their day while they're waiting for that battery light to flash green?