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Audi E-tron 55 Quattro Software Updates Give 12-Mile Range Boost

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Owners of the 2019/2020 model year Audi e-tron 55 Quattro are getting an early holiday gift this year in the form of free software updates that boosts the car’s range … in the UK, anyway.

The new-for-2021 spec Audi e-tron 55 Quattro got a full 12.4 miles of additional driving range than its 2019/2020 siblings. That enhanced efficiency expands the usable capacity of the high-voltage battery. As a result of the upgrades, the cars’ 95 kWh battery delivers more net usable power, fully 86 kWh, which translates into the increased range.

“At Audi, we deliver progress through technology – and there’s no clearer demonstration of that than the free software and range update we’ve just launched for our existing e-tron 55 Quattro customers,” said Andrew Doyle, Director Audi UK, in the official press release. “As we shift our focus to the world of electric vehicles, we’re channelling our pioneering spirit and world-renowned technological expertise into the reinvention of our company as a leading light in the field of sustainable mobility.”

Maybe Software Updates Aren’t Just a Paywall Scam

The news from Audi UK that it’s not locking existing customers “out” from the latest features seems to be in stark contrast to the view taken by cross-town rivals, Mercedes-Benz, who are famously charging buyers subscription fees in order to access hardware “options” they already paid for when they bought the car. “It will cost you about $575 a year to get an over-the-air update that will unlock the 10-degree rear-wheel-steering system,” writes Tim Healy at The Truth About Cars. “Unless you sign up for a three-year subscription, in which case you’ll pay a bit over $1,300, which is a bit of a discount in terms of per-year rate.”

It’s good news, in other words — and not just for Audi UK customers. It seems like US buyers of the Audi e-tron 55 Quattro will be getting a similar update sometime soon. “We can confirm that U.S. drivers of the 2019 model year Audi e-tron in the near future will be eligible for a dealer-installed software update that is designed to improve efficiency,” Audi US revealed to Motor 1. “Similar to improvements already implemented for the 2020 e-tron Sportback and 2021 e-tron and e-tron Sportback models, this update will allow vehicles to de-energize the front motor during normal driving as well as increase the usable capacity of the high-voltage battery. We will be in touch with customers directly once we are able to provide the improvements.”

Time for Some Audi Op-Ed

Image courtesy Audi.

I think this is great news for Audi fans. I’ve spent decades calling Audi cars overpriced VWs due to the extensive platform sharing between the A3/Golf and A4/Passat models (among others), but this shows some real appreciation from the OEM for manufacturers willing to pay a premium for a given design language. And, like, customer service matters — heck, Audi’s commercials even seem to be hitting the right chords these days!

That’s my take, anyway — what’s yours? Do you think this move is secretly cutting service costs or something down the road, or is Audi genuinely trying to do right by their customers? Check out the official press release (below) then scroll down to the comments section and let us know.

Free range boost for Audi e-tron 55 quattro: software update for 2019/2020 model years
Free software update expands usable range of the high-voltage battery
Available for a total of 1,655 Audi e-tron 55 quattro vehicles in the UK
Improvements deliver up to 12.4 miles of additional range
Audi global EV sales up 51 percent YoY to 52,774 units

Milton Keynes, November 16, 2021 – Owners of an Audi e-tron from the 2019 or 2020 model years can now travel farther on a single charge – a new software update will extend their car’s range by up to 12.4 additional miles. This means that Audi isn’t limiting efficiency increases to new models, but also boosting the efficiency of cars already on the road. The update is now available to UK customers and can be installed free of charge at Audi service centres.

Effective immediately, the software features behind this efficiency enhancement expand the usable capacity of the high-voltage battery. As a result, the 95 kWh battery in the Audi e-tron 55 quattro delivers more net usable power – 86 kWh capacity therefore translates into increased range. The software update for all Audi e-tron 55 quattro production vehicles built between mid-September 2018 (model year 2019) and the end of November 2019 (model year 2020) can now be installed free of charge at Audi service partners. In the UK, 1,655 e-tron vehicles are compatible with the update, which will also include a complimentary health check.

In addition to the battery capacity, the new software also optimises the control of the front electric motor. In normal driving mode, the motor attached to the rear axle is responsible for propulsion. For improved efficiency, the front electric motor is now almost completely disconnected and powered off – and only when more power is needed do both motors come into play. This makes it possible to even more effectively exploit the major advantage of the asynchronous motor concept, i.e., currentless operation without electrical drag losses.

Furthermore, the update also improves cooling. The highly flexible thermal management system, which consists of four separate circuits, regulates the temperature of the high-voltage components even more efficiently. Modifying the control system made it possible to reduce the volume flow rates in the coolant circuit, thus reducing energy consumption. The cooling system is the basis for fast DC charging, long battery life, and consistent driving performance, even under high loads.

Excellent suitability for everyday use, excellent sales figures

The first fully electric Audi has been manufactured at our net-zero carbon-neutral site in Brussels since the end of 2018. By this spring, the e-tron had already surpassed 100,000 units sold. In Norway, the model was even the best-selling car across all drive types last year.

Significant growth in deliveries of all-electric Audi models justify the company’s clear move towards e-mobility: by the end of September, Audi had supplied 52,774 all-electric vehicles to customers globally, and therefore achieved an increase of 51.4 percent compared to the same period in the previous year (2020: 34,850). As early as 2026, new models launched to the market by Audi will be all-electric exclusively. In 2033 production of the last models with internal combustion engines will cease.

“At Audi, we deliver progress through technology – and there’s no clearer demonstration of that than the free software and range update we’ve just launched for our existing e-tron 55 quattro customers,” commented Andrew Doyle Director Audi UK. “As we shift our focus to the world of electric vehicles, we’re channelling our pioneering spirit and world-renowned technological expertise into the reinvention of our company as a leading light in the field of sustainable mobility.

“As one of the automotive industry’s first signatories of the Paris Climate Agreement, Audi is taking a holistic and uncompromising approach to meeting its environmental obligations. We have set ourselves ambitious sustainability targets that include the attainment of a 30 per cent reduction in vehicle-specific CO2 emissions throughout the product lifecycle by 2025, operation of all Audi production sites with net zero carbon emissions by that same deadline, and full company-wide carbon neutrality on balance by no later than 2050.”

Source | Images: Audi UK, official press release.


 

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Tesla’s Policy Lead Testifies at PUCT Open Meeting As Tesla Focuses on Supporting the Texas Grid

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Tesla’s US Energy Markets Policy Lead, Arushi Sharma Frank, was recently asked to testify at a Public Utility Commission of Texas Open Meeting. A photo of Frank wearing an LFDECARB tee shirt popped up on Twitter. The tee shirt itself is a message focused on decarbonization by the group Bros for Decarbonization. You can learn more about the group here.

Frank confirmed that it was an impromptu request to testify. She also shared exactly what she talked about.

The document Frank shared was a filing receipt for supplemental comments from Tesla signed by Frank. There’s also a video of her testimony which you can watch here. In the document, Tesla said that it appreciated the opportunity to share its comments regarding PUCT’s discussions that were held on June 16, 2022 — the open meeting regarding Tesla’s proposal OBDRR041 as well as its prior work demonstrating how virtual power plants (VPPs) work.

I recently published an article about Tesla’s VPP workshop, which was related to OBDRR041. Tesla also said that it appreciated the Commission’s comments related to its Distributed Energy Resource (DER) pilot projects. Tesla especially supported the conversation between Commission representatives and the staff at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), as well as with the market participants. The conversation covered the real implementation of the system through a pilot as opposed to a task force approach. The latter, Frank noted, could unnecessarily create delays in implementing a grid service solution for DERs.

Looking At The Document & Tesla’s Statements

The Commission’s decision to encourage ERCOT to get stakeholders together and develop a pilot project allowing the market solution of exports from VPPs to be tested is also something Tesla expressed its appreciation for. This allowed for addressing issues raised by utilities and other market participants that have concerns about the potential impacts of site-exporting DERs on distribution facilities. It also allowed for a discussion of the net impact and benefits to the transmission grid.

Tesla also clarified and provided information as a response to a few discussion topics and questions that were raised at the open meeting. These topics included the OBDRR041 status, the ERCOT Pilot Proposal, and a question posed to Tesla by Chairman Lake at the open meeting.

OBDRR041 status

Tesla noted that since the OBDRR041 is currently tabled at the ERCOT Technical Advisory Committee, it would not seek a vote until there was further development of issues and positions from ERCOT and the potential members of the committee.

“At this time, Tesla believes that OBDRR041 may remain tabled at the Technical Advisory Committee pending consideration of the feasibility of a Virtual Power Plant pilot as the Commission proposed at the Open Meeting.”

ERCOT Pilot Proposal

Tesla expressed its views on the formal ERCOT Pilot Proposal that was introduced at the Open Meeting. Tesla noted that for a formal ERCOT pilot approach to be a feasible alternative to OBDRR041, a pilot should :

Have ERCOT’s support and the market’s acceptance and approval from ERCOT’s governing board.
Be amenable to commercialization in that sufficient participants could be aggregated across sufficient distribution service areas (more than one, but in capped quantities, in each service area as described in a proposed pilot framework).
Adequately capture data addressing clearly identified distribution utility concerns, in parallel to or as part of the pilot’s scope.
Have provisions to ensure market services compensation commensurate with grid services provided by pilot participants
Have an identified “start date” and “end date” which are technically feasible for involved parties.

In addition to that last point, Tesla added that the following are requirements in Section 25.361 (k) regarding pilot development and approval:

“ERCOT may conduct a pilot project upon approval of the scope and purposes of the pilot project by the governing board of ERCOT. Proposals for approval of pilot projects shall be made to the governing board only by ERCOT staff, after consultation with affected market participants and commission staff designated by the executive director.

“The ERCOT governing board shall ensure that there is an opportunity for adequate stakeholder review and comment on any proposed pilot project.”

Tesla noted that pilot  project proposals approved by the ERCOT governing board should include the following:

The scope and purposes of the pilot project;
The designation of temporary exceptions from ERCOT rules that ERCOT expects to authorize as part of the pilot project;
Criteria and reporting mechanisms to determine whether and when ERCOT should propose changes to ERCOT rules based on the results of a pilot project.
An estimate of costs ERCOT will incur attributable to the pilot project.
An estimated date of completion of the pilot project.

Tesla’s Response To Chairman Lake

Tesla expressed its appreciation for Chairman Lake, who stated that “nothing teaches like experience, so the sooner you get something in the field, the more you learn faster.”

Tesla also responded to a question posed by the chairman and said that it’s concerned that it will not be able to scope a pilot program in a Non-Opt-in-Entity (NOIE) area. Currently, Texas homeowners are unable to participate in VPPs due to the law. Tesla said:

“Primarily, this approach may not be economically rational as it could mean a substantial resource investment in a pilot that is not scalable to a commercial retail offer where Tesla could continue to directly serve those customers and grow the program’s strength and viability.

“The customers in a pilot should be able to continue to benefit from the value for their systems beyond the end-date of the pilot, in a commercially viable solution – but with a NOIE-only pilot, Tesla would have no control, legally or otherwise, over the continued participation of such customers once the pilot closes, even if a viable market participation framework is implemented following that pilot’ s conclusion.

“Any formal program participation of those customers would be solely at the option of the NOIE serving those customers. More simply, the purpose of a pilot is to study a solution that can be scaled following adoption of market rules based on pilot learnings. To build a program off the learnings of a pilot, the customer base involved in the pilot should be able to continue service under that formalized program, so that parties involved are not running the risk of raising a wholly new set of unstudied issues in a new distribution system type that was not part of the pilot.”

Frank also shared a link to over 60 pages of data from Tesla. Deep dive coming soon.

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Coalition Calls for EU Hydrogen Quota for Shipping

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Energy providers, shipping companies and NGOs call on the EU to introduce a minimum quota of 6% sustainable and scalable hydrogen fuels by 2030

A broad coalition of energy providers, shipping companies and NGOs — including Siemens Energy, Viking Cruises, Green Power Denmark and Brussels-based organisations Hydrogen Europe and Transport & Environment (T&E) — has called on the EU to introduce a minimum quota of 6% sustainable and scalable hydrogen fuels by 2030.

Last year the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, proposed a shipping fuel law (FuelEU Maritime Regulation) aimed at increasing the uptake of alternative marine fuels. Unfortunately, the law fails to guarantee the competitiveness of sustainable and scalable e-fuels, and risks promoting cheaper, unsustainable fuels. The coalition therefore calls on the European Parliament and EU Council to improve the proposal by including a dedicated e-fuels sub quota in the proposed regulation.

Delphine Gozillon, sustainable shipping officer at T&E, said:

“An ambitious shipping fuels law will be key to set the shipping sector on course for full decarbonisation. Sustainable e-fuels are currently too expensive compared to other alternatives such as fossil LNG and biofuels, holding back investments in production facilities, refuelling infrastructure in ports and zero-emission ships. However, with a bit of a push e-fuels produced from renewable hydrogen can be scalable. That’s why we need a quota to get the ball rolling and encourage companies to start investing in clean shipping fuels. Shipping does not need to be a dirty industry forever.”

A list of all the coalition’s demands can be found here.

Download the letter.

Courtesy of Transport & Environment.

Featured image courtesy of Maersk.

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Diving Into Tesla’s 60+ Pages of PUCT Filings (Mostly Data)

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Tesla has over 60 pages of Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) filings that have recently been shared publicly, and we’re about to dive into them. Grab some water and a coffee and let’s go.

Tesla and its team, including its US Energy Markets Policy Lead, Arushi Sharma Frank, have been working hard to help Texan Powerwall customers be able to take part in virtual power plant (VPP) pilot programs. In May, Tesla held a VPP workshop for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Frank was one of the key leaders hosting the meeting.

Recently, Frank was asked to testify at an open meeting of the PUCT, and there she shared Tesla’s comments and statements addressing questions and other concerns relating to VPPs.

Frank tweeted a thank you to the PUCT for the opportunity of allowing Tesla to provide comments. In addition, she followed up with two more tweets, with one mentioning her favorite part of the filings — Tesla describing a phenomenon called “clumping.” Clumping is a reference to capturing the full value of distributed energy renewables capacity in an aggregate load resource (ALR).

63 Pages Of Data For PUCT

In total, there were 63 pages. I’m only going to go over some of the data briefly. I think it’s important to highlight Tesla’s hard work because if Texas allows its residents who own Powerwall batteries systems to participate in VPPs, this opens the door for other states in the Deep South to at least consider clean energy solutions for various problems, especially grid-related. Texas is well known for its grid instability, and if it allows Tesla Powerwall customers to take part in VPPs, this could mean saving lives during disasters.

Included in the filings were comments from Tesla, a request from Tesla that the Commission direct ERCOT to prioritize several actions such as allowing ALRs (Aggregated Load Resources) to provide injection capacity from individual sites in a framework by December 2022, an informal narrative of Tesla’s VPP demonstration in ERCOT, and 47 slide pages detailing the ERCOT/Tesla ancillary service demonstration.

I think the most important part for us outsiders observing here is the 47 slides, because they highlighted a lot of data that shows just how the Texas grid will benefit from VPPs. The 47 slides showed several key meetings between Tesla and ERCOT about the demo program.

Key Meeting Between Tesla & ERCOT Shows Tesla Has Been Working Hard Trying To Convince Texas To Allow VPPs

In March, there were four meetings in which Tesla defined clumping, Frank’s favorite part, as well as two telemetry signal approaches. Following that were weekly meetings around the demo results with the last demo result being April 15, 2022. On April 9, Tesla and ERCOT revisited clumping and the two telemetry signals approach.

This tells me and anyone paying close attention that Tesla has been quietly working with ERCOT to help the Texas grid for quite some time. This, I think, is a good thing, especially for Texas.

Tesla Seeks To Register The First ALR In ERCOT

According to the documents, Tesla wants to register the first ALR in ERCOT and participate in services that are currently unavailable. These services include non-spin and sCED load reduction dispatch. Tesla wants to do this with the full value of grid services that injecting devices can provide in an ALR.

Tesla said that it will lead efforts to modify the utility’s ALR Policy Other Binding Document to make it fit with practical operational, registration, and qualification issues. It clarified that ERCOT can exchange two telemetry points with an aggregation-qualified scheduling entity (QSE).

Tesla ERCOT Demo Tests

Tesla’s first demo looked at the comparison of battery and premise-level telemetry. Below is a chart showing the initial conditions, test steps, data collected, and pass criteria.

Table courtesy of Tesla

This first test results show that VPPs work beautifully in Texas. According to the results, the load decreased during the evening while in the morning it decreased while exporting to the grid. And during the daytime, the exporting of energy to the grid only increased. Tesla explained further:

“Discharging from the customer’s battery using a step function can clearly be identified in the premise-level data.

“At different times of day, premise-level data will look differently, depending on the current load:

1. Evening time: during the evening peak, user load is typically high, and discharging the battery will show up as a decrease in premise-level load.

2. Morning time: during the night/morning time, user load is typically lower, and discharging the battery will both decrease load, and export energy to the grid.

3. Daytime: during the daytime, solar is exporting to the grid, and discharging the battery will increase the export.”

You can view the full demo, test results, and all of Tesla’s comments here.

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