Designers envision the 'gas' station of the future

Although many people are focusing on electric cars themselves as the future of mobility, it's refreshing to see one automaker realizing that "going electric" is going to mean more than just a change of speed and range.

At this month's Design Miami exhibition, the show's automotive sponsor Audi showcased an "e-den" - its vision of what life could be like when electric cars are the norm and refuelling takes longer than it does at a gas pump.

Better, then, to make this refuelling point more pleasant than your average overcrowded, bad-smelling, unwelcoming gas station, by turning it into a lifestyle experience more along the lines of a comfortable waiting room.

Munich-based graphic design studio Mirko Borsche created the e-den vision where waiting for your electric vehicle to charge needn't be wasted time, but an enjoyable stop filled with hints of the past, right down to the old gasoline pump enclosed in a glass box as an "exhibit".

Inside, the area is warm and homely, making use of calm-inducing plants and warm wood furniture constructed from sustainable sources, such as comfortable chairs for visitors to relax into.

While they wait, customers will have an inviting place to work, eat or charge their own batteries, with a range of organic food on offer, along with magazines and books.

Of course, the area is just a concept, but Audi's Peter Schwarzenbauer says that it's about heightening "the public's awareness of the wide range of challenges electromobility presents."

If the e-den doesn't sound like your cup of tea, it seems that there will be plenty of alternatives - last week fast food giant McDonald's revealed plans to install electric car chargers at some outlets.