Whatís a plug-in hybrid without the plug? The Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI Quattro, which will offer the option of induction charging, in which the driver simply parks over a charge plate to refill the carís battery.
Thatís the word from Audiís technical boss, Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, who believes plug-in hybrids and electric cars will never reach their full market potential unless wireless inductive charging spreads across the fleet. Hackenberg insists that carmakers must make it easier for people to charge electric vehicles. Otherwise, theyíll get fed up with handling heavy, often dirty power cords twice a day.
ďItís not so convenient today to take a cable and plug it in and [unplug it] repeatedly for some people,Ē Hackenberg explained, adding, ďIn my own garage, I sometimes have to go around the car with the cable or over the car and around the tools to get to the plug-in point, so I know we have to hurry with inductive charging.Ē
There are currently two methods of inductive charging racing to gain ascendency electric and plug-in hybrid cars. One is a plate fixed to a garage floor and the other uses a similar method but automatically lifts the plate closer to the underside of the car to increase the charging efficiency and shrink recharging times. According to Hackenberg, Audi is working on the latter system ďand we are very close to production with it,Ē he said.
ďIt will be available in the Q7 e-tron TDI as an option and the convenient part is that whenever the car is parked in your garage, itís effectively plugged in. And weíre not far from the time when the car will park itself, so itís perfectly aligned with the induction plate. Our system will start with 3.6 kW of charging and it will go to 7.2 kW soon, and there are ideas to go higher.Ē
One issue, though, is cost. Hackenberg acknowledges that the Audi system currently costs its maker more than 1000 Euro (currently about $1050). Itís also not clear whether the induction-charging option will be offered in the U.S. market. For that matter, Audi hasnít yet said when the Q7 e-tron will go on sale here (it goes on sale in Europe early next year). Its 3.0-liter diesel engine and electric motor combine to deliver 373 horsepower and 516 lb-ft, and Audi claims that the electrified Q7 can travel 35 miles on battery power alone.