Wireless charging is one technology that may help convince people to trade in their gasoline powered cars for electric vehicles. Convenience is a big selling point for those who aren’t early adopters or rabid tree huggers. What could be more convenient than parking in your garage and then just walking away, while your car charges itself wirelessly? Plugless Power already offers wireless charging systems for the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, using hardware supplied by Bosch.
According to Green Car Reports, a Nissan engineer told journalists during a presentation at the Nissan Technical Center in Atsugi, Japan last month that his company is working to increase the power of the current wireless charging system. “3 kW is not enough, so we’re focusing on higher power,” he said. The engineer hinted that Nissan is striving to increase that number to 7 kW — equivalent to a Level 2 charger. While that may seem minuscule compared to the 135 kW that some Tesla SuperChargers offer, it’s enough power to fully charge a 60 kWh battery such as the one Nissan is expected to introduce on its second generation LEAF due out in 2018 overnight.
One of the drawbacks to current systems is that they must be carefully aligned with the wireless receivers built in to the underside of the cars. Autonomous driving systems will help alleviate that problem, as they will park the car within millimeters of its intended location. But Nissan’s latest systems are capable of working effectively even if the car is up to 6 inches away from the target. The new systems are also higher, to accommodate the needs of taller vehicles like SUVs. Nissan says all its wireless chargers are carefully designed to minimize electromagnetic interference that might interfere with pacemakers or other electronic devices.
Although large scale adoption of wireless charging may be as much as 10 years away, Nissan hopes to share its technology with other car makers. It thinks standardization will be critical to making electric cars the mainstream choice of the future. A few years ago, there was a kerfluffle between Nissan, which adopted the CHAdeMO standard, and other companies that used the CSS charging standard. The two systems are incompatible with each other and that battle of technologies may have prevented some potential customers from buying an electric car at all.