The scenario: dancing lights and pulsating crackling over the car’s roof
The Faraday cage at the Siemens high-voltage test bay in the Berlin switchgear plant measures 42 x 32 by 25 meters (137.8 x 105.0 x 82 ft). A team of electricians and engineers at the world’s largest switchgear production facility is researching lightning impulse voltages of up to three million volts. Built in 1958, the parabolic hall houses an impulse voltage generator the size of a house. And the Audi e-tron prototype is right on the middle of it. Flashes of light dance with a pulsating crackle over the car’s roof, lighting up the 25 meter (82.0 ft) high hall. The experts have aimed a flashover voltage at the car. This experiment symbolizes something that people have been dreaming of for thousands of years: to capture lightning bolts and use their energy. Even today you can’t use a lightning bolt to charge an electric car, but the engineers have come a step closer to realizing the vision of lightning-fast charging. The production version of the Audi e-tron prototype is the first car on the market that can be charged with up to 150 kW.
Charging on the move: with up to 150 kW at high-power charging stations
At high-power charging stations using the European charging standard Combined Charging System (CCS), such as those in the Ionity network, the Audi e-tron prototype is ready to set off on the next long-distance stage of its journey in approximately half an hour. The key feature behind this is the sophisticated thermal management system for the lithium-ion battery. Located in the vehicle floor, it stores 95 kWh of energy to provide a range of over 400 kilometers (248.5 mi) in the realistic WLTP test cycle. The SUV offers full everyday usability. Plans call for 400 of these high-power charging (HPC) stations at intervals of 120 kilometers (74.6 mi) along European highways and main transport routes by 2020. In addition to fast charging with direct current, the electric SUV can also be charged on the move with alternating current at AC chargers, with up to 11 kW standard and optionally with 22 kW.