News Treehugger Voices Prediction: The Audi Charging Hub Has a Lounge on Top and We'll See More of This The hub has a captive audience with time and money to spend while the car gets charged. By Lloyd Alter Lloyd Alter Facebook Twitter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Published January 5, 2022 12:00PM EST Fact checked by Katherine Martinko Fact checked by Katherine Martinko Twitter University of Toronto Katherine Martinko is an expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. Learn about our fact checking process Audi Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive There is a lot going on in this Audi electric vehicle charging hub that opened at the end of 2021 in Nuremberg, Germany. At ground level, it provides six quick-charging stations built into containers that can be assembled in a few days. It is full of 2.45 megawatt-hours of "second life" batteries recovered from dismantled cars so the building doesn't need an expensive high-voltage connection to the mains. It can fill up on a 200-kilowatt connection, bumped up by 30 kilowatts of solar panels on the roof—that's enough juice to fill 80 cars per day. According to Audi's press release: "This makes complex infrastructure with high-voltage power lines and expensive transformers as unnecessary as time-consuming planning procedures. The Audi charging hub's battery-storage solution will bring quick-charging infrastructure where the electric grid is not enough." Audi This charging hub is designed for urban environments—for people who do not have charging facilities at home. It takes about 23 minutes to charge a car from 5% to 80%, during which the driver can while away the time in the lovely lounge upstairs, built over the charging containers. Putting it upstairs is a smart idea, given there are entire web pages devoted to Audis crashing into buildings. Audi This is also where the concept gets really interesting. The press release states: "The goal is to establish the Audi charging hub with appropriate added value for customers. To that end, Audi is offering additional attractive services on-site beyond charging electric cars: an exchange station for electric bike batteries, an electric scooter lending service, information about various Audi products, as well as test drives in theAudi Q4 e-tron and RS e-tron GT2, supervised by Audi experts. Additionally, Audi offers a just-in-time delivery service for food, an upscale automat, and mobile car care. Service staff look after customers In the roughly 200 square meter (2,153 sq. ft.) barrier-free lounge, which also includes a 40 square meter (431 sq. ft.) patio, users’ wellbeing takes center stage. There they can work and relax. On a 98 inch screen, Audi models can be configured or information about the Audi charging hub’s functionality or a car's current charge level can be retrieved." Audi The charging station becomes like an airport, where one has a captive customer for products or services. Since Audi is an upscale car, this is more like an upscale airport lounge. There is money to be made when people have time to kill. There is a larger business opportunity here. Michi no eki in Tonami, Japan. ãã¤ããã£ãã³ / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0 In North America, one usually tries to get in and out of a highway rest stop as quickly as possible, but in Japan, they have "michi no eki" or roadside stations that are destinations in their own right. According to the Japanese Consulate General in New York, there are lots of ways to pass the time and spend money. The consulate website notes: "Green spaces for families to relax and for children to play in are also common features. Larger rest areas may even contain luxury restrooms, gourmet restaurants, shopping malls, amusement parks, and other attractions that often entice visitors to spend several hours enjoying themselves before continuing on their journey. Michi no eki in particular are often tailored to a specific theme or showcase local attractions. Many also incorporate features such as museums, farmer’s markets, and local craft markets that help integrate them with their local communities." Autogrill over the Autostrada in Italy. Qwesy Qwesy / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0 On the Autostrada in Italy, they have the Autogrill built into bridges across the highway. Many people rave about the food, although one food critic says that, "generally speaking, the high opinion of this massive brand is completely overblown." But sitting on a bridge eating pasta while the cars race below is a lot of fun. Coworking Café. Hewitt Studios This is not the first time we have discussed this concept, having previously shown Hewitt Studios' vision of a mobility hub that is more than just a place to charge a car, but also was "developed by Hewitt Studios to offer attractive, safe and sustainable neighborhood EV and e-bike charging with integrated cafe/demonstration space." Coffee? Tea? Treats? Pictured here is the vending area of the cafe. Audi The Biden administration's currently dead Build Back Better bill proposed the U.S. government provide $7.5 billion for charging infrastructure on the assumption that the private sector wouldn't do it on its own. But Audi, with its charging hub, demonstrates a different model, where it makes money on the charging and then has a captive audience for half an hour where it can sell everything from coffee to cars. The Hewitt Studios café/coworking model is also intriguing. But I am holding out for the full michi no eki concept, complete with hot spring baths and Ferris wheels.