Are plug-in vehicles a thing of the past? – inductive charging on the rise

Are plug-in vehicles a thing of the past?
– inductive charging on the rise

 

With this theme section from Insero Quarterly, you get the latest insights into the development of inductive charging and its impact on the future of electric vehicles.

 

Already we can charge our mobile phone without having it connected to the power source, so why not do the same with our vehicles. Inductive charging is not merely a futuristic dream, it is already here.

 

Nearly 20 years ago, General Motors talked about the technology with wireless charging, however, obstacles like charging speed, cost, and safety concerns kept wireless charging from becoming widespread amongst car manufacturers.

 

This was before the potential of electric vehicles (EVs) was realised. Today, several car manufacturers, including Daimler, Volvo, and Nissan, are on the road to developing EVs with wireless inductive charging. Already, the American manufacturer, Evatran Group, has since 2014 been selling Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) products, in particular, the Plugless inductive charging system, that enables wireless inductive charging for EVs such as the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. In April 2017, the company reached a milestone and announced that its installed base of Plugless wireless chargers had logged more than one million hours of charging time (source).

 

Static vs. dynamic wireless charging technology

There are two general types of wireless charging technology; static and dynamic wireless charging. With static wireless charging, the vehicle is parked on top of a charging pad. The preferred type of static wireless charging for EVs is inductive wireless charging, which uses magnetic field coupling between conducting coils (source).  

 

The charging pad sends a current through a coil which creates a spinning magnetic field. This, in turn, acts on another coil fixed to the EV’s undercarriage, imparting an electromotive force that can be converted back into storable electric energy used to power the EV.

Dynamic wireless charging has the same coils which generate energy, but instead of the car being parked on a charging pad, the energy is received while the car is moving through coils embedded in the road. This technology will allow for EVs to conduct long-distance travel without or with a minimized need for charging.

Inductive charged EVs are the future

There is no doubt that EVs are the future of transportation with several countries and car manufacturers devoted to the development of EV technology. However, conductive charging has been named as one of the barriers for a full adaptation of EVs since you manually must plug in the power cord to the car and charging station. Moreover, charging cords are stolen for their cobber wiring and charging stations vandalised (source).

 

These barriers are overcome with inductive charging. According to the European Green Vehicle Initiative-project, UNPLUGGED there are several advantages of (static) inductive charging compared to conductive charging. These include the automation of the charging process, charging without a plug-in cable, no risk of forgetting to charge the EV, and a system which is protected against vandalism (source).

 

Charging on the go

In addition, for automated transportation with self-driving vehicles to fully take present in the future, it is necessary that the cars are also able to self-charge and not be dependent on a human do plug in a charging cord.
This technology is already being tested:

At three sites in South Korea, trams and buses charge as they drive over a series of embedded coils that are sequentially flooded with pulses of electricity as a vehicle passes overhead. Renault is helping to test this technology in Versailles, near Paris. And Israel’s transport ministry is funding a test on a short stretch of a street in Tel Aviv.” – The Economist.

Also, with dynamic inductive charging, the best-case scenario for EVs is that they in theory never have to stop because they can charge “on the go”, thus, eliminating the range-barrier many potential consumers have and reduces the need for a large battery, in terms reducing the price of the vehicle.

Disadvantages such as charging speed and efficiency, cost, and safety concerns have previously kept car manufacturers from adopting the technology. Nonetheless, the technological development is addressing these areas, e.g. “General Motors is currently working with WiTricity to develop wireless charge systems for its plug-ins that run at 7.7 kW and 11 kW.” - Fleetcarma.

 

International charging standard

If one was to point at a single occurrence which aided the adaptation of inductive charging of EVs, it would most likely be the SAE International’s new specification for inductive EV charging up to 11 kW of power and with the circular coil as the chosen standard for tests. In addition, “SAE standard ratification is hopeful by the end of 2018, enabling many automakers to include wireless charging in EVs beginning in 2020-2021” – EV Adoption.

 

Today, several car manufacturers have announced that they will launch car models with wireless inductive charging in 2018. This includes BMW’s 530e iPerformance and Mercedes’ S-Class S550e plug-in vehicle – both of which will offer a version of Qualcomm Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology.

Moreover, “Nissan, GM and Ford have entered into partnerships with smaller wireless charging companies like WiTricity, working to test and refine charging systems for their platforms. Toyota is collaborating on research at the university level, and recently launched a test on one of its own models” – Fleetcarma.

 

Companies working with inductive charging

Even though there are still barriers to overcome, inductive charging is slowly but steadily moving forward. The expectation is that the technology will be widely used during the following five years. The benefits and attractiveness of the technology in terms of convenience, standardisation, and compatibility across EV brands are simply too great.

 

Already several companies offer inductive charging and are working alongside car manufacturers to push market penetration. The following table provides an overview of some of these interesting companies, their collaboration with car manufacturers, and their technological advancements:

Company

Web

Current charging power

Collaboration

Efficency

Qualcomm

www.qualcomm.com

3.7 kW, 7.4 kW, 11 kW and
22 kW

Daimler

+90 %

WiTricity

www.witricity.com

3.6 kW, 7.7 kW, 11 kW and 22 kW

Honda, Nissan, General Motors, Hyundai

90-93 %

HEVO

www.hevopower.com

10 kW

None reported

+85 %

Evatran/
Plugless Power

www.pluglesspower.com

3.6 – 7.2 kW

Zhejiang VIE Science and Technology Company (”VIE”)

Plugless is ~12 % less efficient than corded L2 30amp 240V charging systems and ~7 % less efficient than corded Level 1

Continental

www.continental-corporation.com

11 kW

NIO

+90 %

Mojo Mobility

http://www.mojomobility.com/home

10 kW

Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center

85%

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Jens Christian Lodberg Høj

Jens Christian Morell Lodberg Høj

Chief Innovator, E-Mobility

Insero

 

jclh@insero.com

+45 41 12 55 58

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