• Home
  • A seamless charging ecosystem

A seamless charging ecosystem

A good charging infrastructure and vehicle connectivity are essential for electric mobility. Giovanni Palazzo, Head of Charging and Energy at Volkswagen Group, outlines his future plans for intelligent energy solutions – and explains in how far Audi customers can benefit from them.

Copy: Bernd Zerelles – Photo: Elli, AUDI AG Reading Time: 4 min

Portrait shot of Giovanni Palazzo.
As Senior Vice President, Giovanni Palazzo is responsible for the Volkswagen Group’s global charging and energy business and, as CEO and Head of Sales, he also manages the Elli brand, a provider of energy and charging solutions.

Giovanni, since 1 July you have been responsible for the Volkswagen Group’s global charging and energy business, which includes the Elli brand. What exactly is the charging and energy business about?
We develop charging solutions to drive the further development of electric mobility, making our contribution to the decarbonisation of society. So, at Elli we combine all products, software solutions and services relating to the electric charging of electric vehicles for the Volkswagen Group – be it at home, on the road or at work. We make sure that charging becomes easier and more convenient than refuelling.
Looking ahead to the next few years, the Volkswagen Group has set itself two main goals: to expand the public fast-charging network worldwide and to integrate vehicle charging into an energy ecosystem. In this context, we are very well positioned in North America with the EA brand (Electrify America), in China with CAMS (Charging As Mobility Service) and in Europe with Elli.

Car manufacturers building vehicles with combustion engines have not yet come up with the idea of operating a petrol station network. Why is it different now with electromobility, why are car manufacturers suddenly becoming electricity providers as well?
That’s what makes electromobility so exciting: the networking of the car, charging station, software and services is much greater than with combustion vehicles. This gives us the opportunity to rethink concepts, to be innovative and agile. Audi is electrifying its model range, and Elli offers products and services for intelligent energy solutions to match. This is a unique change, a real transformation of the system.
We are in a position to support various technical standards and business models that the Volkswagen Group brands already offer their customers and want to provide in the future. Electromobility must be given a significant boost, and Elli can make a major contribution to this.

 

“The networking of the car, charging station, software and services is what makes electromobility so exciting.”

Giovanni Palazzo

Audi charging card.
Audi charging offers access to one of the largest public charging networks in Europe with more than 500,000 public charging points in 27 European countries.

The Volkswagen Group’s Elli brand is the largest mobility service provider in Europe. You are announcing “a new strategic direction, new business models and closer cooperation within this business area and with the Volkswagen Group brands”. What does that mean for Audi?
Before I took up my new post in July, I spent five years in the United States. During this time, I had the pleasure of driving an Audi e-tron, which gave me the opportunity to better understand the needs of Audi customers when charging their electric vehicles. And that’s what it really comes down to: a deep understanding of the brands, the products, the demands and the customers leads to better products.
We see ourselves as a reliable and strong partner for key Audi projects, as an internal enabler that supports the ideas of Audi Development with the right energy supply. We enable target-oriented charging solutions for Audi, such as smart charging for the new Audi wallbox. And we are discussing intelligent charging services with the Audi team, which will be of great value to local customers. Audi customers can already filter the best charging points for them in the myAudi app to ensure they get the charging experience they are looking for, such as key locations and high charging speeds.

A press release states that one of your priorities is to expand the Volkswagen Group’s fast-charging network. What is the idea behind this? The Volkswagen Group is already involved in the fast-charging network provider IONITY. And Audi has also started to operate Audi charging hubs.

I am a big fan of the Audi charging hubs. They offer fantastic charging experiences at great locations. This is absolutely the right way to go. Overall, the Volkswagen Group has the clear goal of operating around 43,000 high-power chargers worldwide by 2025. Almost half of these have already been installed.
EA in North America and CAMS in China are leading the way here. In Europe, we are expanding our fast-charging network together with partners. We are focussing on countries where there is a need to offer good services across the board. In Europe alone, Audi customers now have access to a total of 580,000 charging points via Elli. That is an increase of over 55 per cent compared to last year, and the trend is rising.

Volkswagen wants to temporarily store electricity in decommissioned batteries from electric vehicles for trading on the electricity exchange. Audi is taking a different approach and has been using lithium-ion batteries from test vehicles as storage in the Audi charging hub fast-charging stations since the end of 2021. Which solution is forward-looking for the use of second-life batteries?
Every Second Life Use Case is forward-looking. We believe in new Energy Use Cases and we both want the same thing here: using resources sensibly, stabilising power grids, decarbonising society.
The launch of Elli on Europe’s largest electricity exchange, EPEX SPOT, is part of the energy strategy we are pursuing at Elli. On the one hand, we can make a decisive contribution to increasing electricity capacity, providing access to renewable energies and stabilising electricity prices in Germany. This gives us the opportunity to create sound and tangible practices for society and for the development of energy management in Germany and Europe. On the other hand, this is of course also a very interesting business model for us. Incidentally, together with the Volkswagen Group, we are the first automotive company to trade German electricity on EPEX SPOT.

In addition to expanding the fast-charging network, you want to focus your work on setting up your own smart energy platform. What does that mean?
Elli is transforming itself from a provider of charging solutions to a provider of smart energy solutions. We are networking the entire electrical ecosystem of electric cars, wallboxes, the power grid, solar systems and storage systems. Our goal is to be the largest provider of holistic energy solutions in Europe.
The energy transition is accompanied by major fluctuations in the utilisation of renewable energies over time. This is why vehicle batteries from electric cars are becoming important intermediate storage units. They can serve as some sort of “power bank”. We want to make it possible for Audi customers to use the battery of their car to support their own energy system at home in the future.

“We create tangible practices for the development of energy management in Germany and Europe.”

Giovanni Palazzo

Rear view of the Audi e-tron GT quattro.

Exciting and electric

Audi is expanding its fleet of electric vehicles and will exclusively develop all-electric models from 2026. The brand already offers an electrified variety: from the family-friendly Q model to the Gran Turismo Audi e-tron GT quattro. Discover the potential and the unmistakable Audi design DNA of the all-electric sports car – for everyday use and the grand tour – and create your own customised configuration.

Learn more

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 21.6–19.6CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.

Audi e-tron GT quattro: Power consumption (combined*) in kWh/100 km: 21.6–19.6CO₂ emissions (combined*) in g/km: 0
Information on fuel/power consumption and CO₂ emissions with ranges depending on the selected equipment of the vehicle.
Only consumption and emission values according to WLTP and not according to NEDC are available for the vehicle.