One of the great unknowns regarding electric vehicles is how their dissemination might change behavior. The stakes are high, too, impacting the future design of transportation systems. Hoping to move beyond speculation and gather empirical evidence, Germany is running an electric-car trial that uses a smartphone application to gather behavior data.
Audi is supplying the vehicles, two utilities the charging stations and the Technical University of Munich the smartphone app. The Federal Ministry of Transport, meanwhile, is sponsoring the whole thing. “Projects like these provide us with important insight into how to make electromobility a success, both in the city and in rural areas. In the Munich model region, we are providing approximately 10 million euros in funding,” said Federal Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer.
Called “eflott,” the trial puts 20 Volt-like Audi A1 e-tron models on the roads around Munich, taking advantage of 200 charging stations that are going in. Audi says the vehicle has a range of 30-plus miles in city traffic and a top speed around 80 mph. It puts out zero emissions when going electric, and has a compact internal combustion engine the recharges the battery when its energy is zapped. This “range extender” can provide 124 miles of driving using just a gallon of gas.
Some of the questions that will be explored using the smartphone app, according to an Audi press release: How heavily and in which situation is the electric car being used? And what influence does this option have on the use of other means of transportation?