In the fleet world, “keep it moving” is the catchphrase and utilization is the buzzword that matters. 

If an electric vehicle is in the sidelines charging overnight or for a significant portion of the day, it’s poorly utilized and doesn’t pencil out well in businesses like taxi companies that revolve around making the most of the vehicles they have.  

And that’s the motivation behind a project announced Thursday: In Oslo, Norway, Jaguar I-Pace taxis will be charged wirelessly, in small high-power increments throughout the day (and night). 

The project is being taken on by automaker Jaguar Land Rover and commercial wireless charging expert Momentum Dynamics, with help from charging operator Fortum Recharge and the taxi network Cabonline (NorgesTaxi AS). 

A team of engineers and technicians will fit Momentum Wireless high-power charging units to 25 Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs to be used by the cab company, which is the largest taxi network in the Nordic countries.

Momentum Dynamics charging pad placement

Momentum Dynamics charging pad placement

Through multiple charging plates set into a section of roadway near Oslo’s central train station used for the taxi queue, drivers can pull up to a painted line and, with the help of a guidance system in the vehicle, align with the charging plate at the bottom of the vehicle with the one in the roadway. 

Without the need to plug in, or do any kind of handshake from a phone or fob or the vehicle screen, the inductive charging system will deliver charge to the car at up to 50 kw in bursts of 6-8 minutes, which will give the driver enough time to drop off existing passengers and take on new ones.

“The taxi industry is the ideal test bed for wireless charging, and indeed for high-mileage electric mobility across the board,” said Jaguar Land Rover vehicle engineering manager Steve Boulter, who added that the system should be easier than refueling a conventional vehicle because under the system “no driver engagement is required.”

Inductive Power Transfer wireless charging used in Turin buses. [Image: Conductix-Wampfler]

Inductive Power Transfer wireless charging used in Turin buses. [Image: Conductix-Wampfler]

The project includes six charging pads, with three more to be placed at another location. It marks the first time that Momentum Dynamics, which usually enables high-power wireless charging for buses and company fleets, has implemented its technology in a public project for passenger vehicles. 

The city of Oslo wants to make its cab system entirely tailpipe-emission-free as soon as 2024 and sees wireless charging as one way to reach that goal. It fits in with a mandate requiring all new cars sold in all of Norway to be zero-emission by 2025. Although Germany has now taken the lead in the rate of EV sales, Norway leads the world in EV adoption and still has a dramatic lead in EVs used per capita. 

According to Momentum Dynamics, each charging pad set and the supporting systems costs about as much as the typical DC fast charger—in the vicinity of $25,000. 

Momentum Dynamics charging pads mounted below bus

Momentum Dynamics charging pads mounted below bus

Momentum Dynamics CEO Andrew Daga, speaking to Green Car Reports, said that through the charge point operator Fortum Recharge, which announced this Oslo project last year, a simplified billing system operates in the background with a utility-grade meter in each unit, and if a driver stops over the wireless pad 10 times in a day they don’t get pinged about 10 different transactions. 

“It’s sort of like EZ Pass or toll collection where you pass under at full speed and you get charged a toll,” Daga said. “That’s the future, we believe, of automated EV charging.”

Momentum’s technology also has the potential to integrate battery grid storage and carefully monitored demand management—and to provide bi-directional charging that might potentially use the vehicles, in a future scheme, act to provide supplemental power at times.

The template set by the project is one that Momentum Dynamics says is potentially set for use at many other sites in the future. 

Momentum Dynamics wireless charging

Momentum Dynamics wireless charging

Momentum Dynamics' hardware uses an alternating magnetic field at 85 khz. The size of the pad is about 600 mm by 600 mm by 30 mm, so it mounted easily on the bottom of the vehicle. It claims a 94% efficiency (from the service connection) in deployed units right now for commercial vehicles, which is better than overhead or cabinet fast chargers. 

Daga says that its efficiency doesn’t drop as power goes up to 150 kw and 350 kw (and beyond) as it does for connector-based fast-charging as the cables generate so much heat from resistance (and there are further losses from cooling them). 

The system also has the potential for near-field data communication, as it’s sending power, which would be a perfect combination for use in autonomous vehicles in the future. 

It also wants to see the technology deployed in short-range, last-mile delivery fleets, where vehicles could potentially load up with enough charge as they’re being loaded for the next delivery. And seeing how smoothly these Oslo taxis “keep it moving” might be a good spark for that vision.