• Suitability for everyday use confirmed: a Paralympian and a wheelchair user test the Audi charging hub
  • The Audi Q4 e-tron model family offers driving aids from the factory
  • Ample room between charging stations and adjustable and lightweight equipment are decisive factors for easy use
Audi charging hub Frankfurt

When creating infrastructure for electric vehicles, it is important to remember people with mobility requirements. Audi brand ambassador Gerd Schönfelder, the most successful Winter Paralympian of all time, and Audi driver Uwe Herrmann have clear ideas on what charging without barriers and disability-friendly vehicle modifications should look like. Schönfelder lost his right arm and shoulder in an accident at the age of 19, while Hermann has been using a wheelchair since adolescence. While Schönfelder has been driving an Audi Q4 e-tron for the past 18 months, Herrmann (still) drives an Audi with a gasoline engine and is curious to hear about Schönfelder’s experiences. At the opening of the sixth Audi charging hub in Frankfurt am Main, the two men met up for a chat.

Gerd Schönfelder: Public charging stations must be accessible for all electric car drivers, including people with mobility needs. With its barrier-free features like the swivel arm and the height-adjustable display, the Audi charging hub is a great place for people like us with disabilities to charge their cars in a comfortable environment quickly. In my opinion, however, everybody benefits from the barrier-free concept at this charging facility.

Uwe Herrmann: I’m still driving a car with a gasoline engine, but everything I’ve heard about e-mobility to date sounds positive. And the Audi charging hub looks promising, too. Sometimes, I have to ask for help filling up my current Audi SQ5 when the car is in an awkward position. But that could soon change with an electrically powered Audi at a charging point like this. For me, it’s important that the car doors open wide, and I have room to lift the wheelchair over me and onto the passenger seat. So, I really value the memory function for electric seat adjustment, which automatically moves the driver’s seat to the correct position. With Audi models, I’ve never had any problems. I come from a VW family - my uncle was an executive chauffeur for Volkswagen. My first Audi model was an Audi 80 Avant, which I got in 1994, and then came an A4, an A3, an A6, a Q5, a Q7, a Q3, and an A7, in that order. The modifications I needed always worked perfectly. When I changed the car, the fitters took the components out of the old one and put them in the new one.

Schönfelder: With the Q4 e-tron, the driving aids are actually available from the factory. Changing from a gasoline engine to an electric model was a big adjustment for me. But I was curious and have never regretted it. You have to plan a little more before undertaking longer journeys. I find the e-tron route planner very useful here, especially for getting to the Audi charging hub or IONITY, where I can charge in comfort. Then I have a relaxing drive, particularly as I start out earlier due to the charging stops, and reach my destination in a calm frame of mind. In this way, I almost always have time to spare. While the car is charging, I can drink a coffee – out of a proper cup to boot. As I drink, I work on my laptop. I’ve now clocked up 50,000 kilometers. With my new Q4 e-tron, I can even charge at a rate of up to 175 kW, which makes charging times at fast-charging stations even shorter.

Herrmann: Storage space is very important for me. After all, I have to take my wheelchair wherever I go. The accessibility features at the Audi charging hub would definitely make my life easier. When I go to the gas station today, I look for somebody to go with me because of my personal needs. Moreover, with an electric model, I could charge my car at my workplace. I think it’s important for cities and municipalities, as well as for manufacturers and operators, to implement our requirements regarding accessibility.

Schönfelder: Agreed. Just like Audi is. Charging at the Audi charging hub is not only fast but comfortable. I’ve been to the charging hub in Nuremberg, which has a 200-square-meter lounge, three times now. For me, the ability to charge my car there quickly and easily without barriers is a major argument in favor of e-mobility. When I’m on longer trips, I want to make use of HPC options. Furthermore, Audi's charging service offers a convenient way of charging your car quickly and inexpensively at various providers during a journey. Just hold out your card, and bingo! But for people with disabilities, it’s not only the charging itself that has to be convenient and well-designed but also the environment. And Audi has got their eye on the ball here.