Wireless Electric Car Charging: Steady Growth Through 2020

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Delphi wireless charging system for EVs

Delphi wireless charging system for EVs

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Wireless charging is nothing new--but it could be the next widely-used technology in the world of electric cars.

That's according to Pike Research, which suggests wireless charging sales will surpass 280,000 by 2020.

The group cites the partnerships of several electric vehicle manufacturers with wireless charging companies as the reason for such  growth.

Wireless charging, often called induction charging, uses electric coils mounted in a vehicle and corresponding coils in a ground pad.

When an electric car parks over the ground pad, it creates an electromagnetic field, converted into electrical current within the car to charge the battery. As the name suggests, no wired connection between the electric car is required, and ground pads can even be installed out of sight under the road surface.

Pike suggests that convenient charging is becoming a major factor in electric car purchase decisions, and the "park and forget" nature of wireless charging is an attractive concept.

The research group also suggests that the potential for frequent, brief stops where wireless charging is abundant could be a large factor in reducing 'range anxiety'.

Several large carmakers have already formed partnerships with wireless charging companies.

BMW is working with Siemens on wireless charging; Toyota, Mitsubishi and Audi are developing systems with WiTricity and Delphi; Qualcomm with Renault and Delta Motorsports; and Evatran with businesses like Google and Hertz, among others.

Nissan is also experimenting with wireless charging, and has even developed a system that allows the car to self-park, ensuring it's in the best location for charging.

The technology is expected to feature in a future Infiniti electric subcompact, arriving sometime before 2015. Nissan says its system is between 80-90 percent efficient--actually not that different from standard wired charging.

Wireless recharging is a field-proven technology, too. It's been used in some Italian bus fleets for over a decade now, where the frequent stops can recharge 10-15 percent capacity in only a short time.

A similar system could prove effective should the numbers of electric taxis rise as predicted.

As ever, there are drawbacks, such as changes to the infrastructure to accept wireless pads embedded in the road--not to mention retro-fitting existing electric vehicles to ensure compatibility.

But while there are many "next big things" in the electric vehicle world, wireless charging already offers a usable solution. Combined with manufacturer support, our next generation of electric cars may be able to charge wirelessly as well as through wires.


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Comments (3)
  1. I think there are two big reasons people think they want wireless charging. 1) they're lazy and feel for some misinformed reason that pluging-in is a hastle. 2) in the imagination of misinformed people they think you can just pull into a space and it will just work perfectly. They don't know that the plug is more efficient and wireless charging only works well if you can get the pads lined up perfectly. This to me is lazy tech, it's an innovation to help us do less and then we wonder why we're all getting fat.

  2. There is precisely one and only reasonable use case for this and I doubt it is suitable.

    Only if you can fill an entire parking lot such that no matter where you park, you get charged then it has some use.

    Anyone who has owned a plug in car for 3 days knows how completely irrelevant the act of plugging in is.

  3. the sheer logistics of installing the pads is enormous and other than new construction, will be cost prohibitive.

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