2016 Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro Plug-in Hybrid SUV Will Offer Optional Inductive Charging

Audi’s all-new second-generation 2016 Q7  Quattro SUV — the first production vehicle to be built on the all-new MLB 2 platform from the Volkswagen Group — has already created quite a stir since its official unveiling earlier this year at the 2015 NOrth American International Show in Detroit.

We're learning more and more about this important plug-in from Audi.

We’re learning more and more about this important plug-in from Audi.

Due to go on sale later this year with a range of different internal combustion engines, the 2016 Audi Q7 Quattro range will be supplemented early next year with the addition the Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro plug-in hybrid. This will marry a 94 kilowatt electric motor and 17.3 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack with a 3.0-litre V-6 TDI diesel engine in Europe or 2.0-litre four-cylinder TFSI gasoline engine in North America and Asia.

And as CarAndDriver reported over the weekend, the Q7 e-tron Quattro will come with optional wireless inductive charging too.

The revelation was disclosed by none other than Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi’s technical boss, who told the Australian magazine in a recent interview that the diesel-variant of the full-size Q7 e-tron Quattro will be available with optional inductive charging when it launches in Europe early next year.

Current-generation automotive inductive charging works by placing an electromagnetic coil on the underside of a vehicle (secondary coil) and another electromagnetic coil on the ground (primary coil). When an electric current passes through the primary coil, it creates an electromagnetic field which in turn induces an electric current to flow through the nearby secondary coil. That current then flows into the car’s battery pack via its on-board charging circuitry.

Audi will offer inductive charging on the new Q7 e-tron Quattro

Audi will offer inductive charging on the new Q7 e-tron Quattro

To ensure maximum power transfer and efficiency, the coils need to be as close together as possible, while pulsing the flow of electricity at a specific frequency ensures that no other objects nearby — like metal plates or other metallic objects — become unintended secondary coils.

Audi’s current generation of inductive charging features an automatic mechanism which raises the primary coil to within a few millimeters of the secondary coil, improving power efficiency and therefore reduce charging times. This makes it far more efficient that inductive systems which transmit power from within the garage floor to the underside of the vehicle, a distance of many centimeters.

“It 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, it’s effectively plugged in. And we’re not far from the time when the car will park itself, so it’s perfectly aligned with the induction plate,” he said. “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.”

There’s no word on how much the inductive charging option will cost the consumer, but Hackenberg admitted to CarAndDriver that the cost to Audi is somewhere around €1,000 per car. It’s that high cost which means that U.S. customers may not even be offered the functionality, although Hackenberg said Audi hasn’t decided if the feature will be offered in the U.S.or not.

The 2016 Q7 goes on sale later this year, with the plug-in hybrid variants arriving next spring.

The 2016 Q7 goes on sale later this year, with the plug-in hybrid variants arriving next spring.

Cars fitted with inductive charging will of course also come with conductive charging capabilities for moments when there isn’t an inductive plate around, but with conductive rather than inductive charging technology the norm for public charging stations early-adopters of this technology should initially expect induction charging to be rare outside of their own garage.

Despite being a novel idea for now, Hackenberg says inductive charging is key in order for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to really reach mass-market appeal. This is particularly true in Europe, he said, where public charging stations require people to use their own charging lead rather than a tethered one.

“It’s not so convenient today to take a cable and plug it in and [unplug it] repeatedly for some people,” Hackenberg he said, “In 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.”

With an all-electric range of 35 miles per charge, the Q7 e-tron Quattro is a fairly good test-bed for inductive charging technology, since it will require far more regular charging than a larger, longer-range plug-in vehicle. But until the cost comes down and inductive charging becomes commonplace, we’re doubtful it will have a major impact just yet.

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