Missing Link: Will Wireless Charging Help Energize the Electric-Car Market?

Missing Link: Will Wireless Charging Help Energize the Electric-Car Market?


Chevrolet Volt fitted with inductive chargingWhile This specific’s easy to dismiss wireless charging for smartphones or tablets as mere gimmickry in its present state, the technology shows serious promise out in your driveway—where This specific could play an important role not just in how you charge your vehicle nevertheless in how quickly electric cars catch on.

Wireless charging (also called inductive charging) systems use electricity coming from the grid to generate an electromagnetic field of which can recharge batteries across a gap, such as between a charging pad on your garage floor along which has a car parked above This specific. Although the technology has been teased for decades, the latest iterations of wireless charging get over two engineering hurdles: the lack of physical flexibility between the charging pad along with the vehicle’s receiver, along with the energy lost by such systems.

Wireless charging used to be less efficient than a physical charging port, nevertheless the latest systems coming from WiTricity, Qualcomm (Halo), along with Samsung are doing better. WiTricity’s brand-new original-equipment system achieves excellent overall efficiency numbers of 91 to 93 percent, measured coming from the power grid to your vehicle battery, while a typical plug-in Level 2 charger can be considered efficient at 88 percent or so, along with Level 1 (110-volt AC socket) systems are considerably less efficient.

of which WiTricity system, General Motors advanced technology spokesman Kevin Kelly confirmed, can be in a “prototype testing” phase with the Chevrolet Bolt EV along with Volt—although any future availability for these types isn’t yet a given.

Alex Gruzen, WiTricity CEO

Alex Gruzen, WiTricity CEO

According to Alex Gruzen, CEO of WiTricity, the efficiency gains are achieved through the MIT-born company’s technical focus on physics along with resonant frequencies. “If you can create a very efficient resonator, some magic occurs, along with you can move energy with great efficiency,” he explained. Gruzen said of which with the company’s current technology, This specific can fine-tune the system to work with four to 10 inches of ground clearance. along with of which—which has a guidance system to help the vehicle get centered—allows a lot of flexibility for the type of vehicle along with the way the charging mat can be mounted in a driveway, garage, or parking lot.

A Single Standard of which Should Just Work

WiTricity can be endorsing an individual industry standard for wireless charging—along with compromising on a frequency of which would likely work around the earth while maintaining power levels along with efficiency. The SAE standard from the works, which the engineering group calls J2954, establishes an 85-kHz frequency band along with covers four power levels: 3.7 kW, 7.7 kW, 11.0 kW, along with 22.0 kW. The standard will also support interoperability among pads along with receivers coming from different companies.

At present, the 22-kWh power level will be out of reach for most household installations—although This specific could be a lower-cost alternative to fast charging for commercial installations at restaurants or shopping centers. Higher levels of up to 50 kW are from the works, nevertheless those are reserved for commercial vehicles, such as electric buses.

Earlier This specific month, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), in collaboration with six companies (including Toyota, Nissan, along with Jaguar Land Rover) completed bench testing in support of J2954 along with engaged in a series of interoperability tests. Much work toward the standard has already happened.

By the time the standard can be finalized in early 2018, several types might already be on the market with inductive charging. The 2018 Mercedes-Benz S550e plug-in hybrid can be required to offer or include the feature—in of which case, supplied by Qualcomm—along with Nissan has hinted of which This specific could be available on the next-generation Leaf, coming as a 2018 type. Several additional automakers are involved with WiTricity: Toyota can be an investor, along with the company earlier This specific year announced a collaboration with Nissan.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Plug-In HybridExpense has been another deal breaker for inductive charging systems. The cost for the charging pad, receiver, power management hardware, along with control software can add up to several thousand dollars. nevertheless WiTricity CEO Gruzen expects of which prices won’t remain the sticking point for long.

“Like everything in This specific business, the costs are falling dramatically as volume increases,” he said, mentioning the company’s work to involve the China Automotive Technology along with Research Center (CATARC), which guides such standards in China. “Common architecture means scalability, which means of which the components go to volume faster.”

WiTricity can be not the only company of which believes the technology can be reaching a tipping point. Evatran, which manufactures the Plugless Power line of aftermarket wireless chargers—for types including the BMW i3, the Chevrolet Volt, the Nissan Leaf, along with the Tesla type S—also plans to enter the original-equipment market soon, along with This specific already has in China. “We expect of which 2017 will be a defining year for OEM announcements on wireless EV charging based on the intensity of interest we are seeing across the board,” said Steve Cummings, Evatran’s senior manager of brand along with marketing strategy.

Are Autonomous Vehicles the Missing Link for Sharing?

“We see wireless charging as being essential to the future of mobility,” said Gruzen. For car-sharing fleets along with autonomous vehicles—along with anywhere This specific’s not the operator or passenger’s responsibility to use a physical charger—wireless charging at designated parking spots could help keep vehicles in use a greater portion of the time.

The brand-new standards apply only to stationary systems. The possibility of dynamic inductive charging can be a related technology, nevertheless This specific involves systems embedded into roadways to charge vehicles continuously along some routes—potentially reducing the need for vehicles to carry around big, bulky battery packs. As you might guess, of which involves a series of more complex infrastructure questions.

from the meantime, the simpler idea of shedding the charge-cord hassle at home along with creating nightly charging second nature could be what warms up more people to electric vehicles.

Missing Link: Will Wireless Charging Help Energize the Electric-Car Market?

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