Wireless charging may be key to the coming zero-emissions, green-car revolution. Oddly enough, people who think nothing about sticking a smelly gasoline hose into their cars every few days are squeamish about putting their hands on a charging cable. They are so inconvenient, you know? Plus, if you mount your charger near the front of your garage for your Nissan LEAF, what do you do when you finally get that Tesla you have been dreaming of? It plugs in at the rear.
Wireless charging today suffers from several drawbacks, not the least of which is that most wireless systems are only capable of charging at 3.3 kW of power. As electric cars get larger batteries, it could take several days to recharge them at that rate if the battery is fully depleted. Other issues involve the ability to operate outdoors and the fact that it requires a dedicated system to meet the needs of different cars.
WiTricity says it has developed wireless charging systems that can operate at 7.7 kW and 11 kW. Its technology is scalable up to 25 kW and could go higher, the company says. It is teaming up with ProDrive, one of the auto industry’s largest Tier 1 suppliers, to design an 11 kW wireless charging system for an unnamed European carmaker planning to release its first wirelessly charged vehicles in 2019.
ProDrive will deliver a complete system, including the components that are integrated into the vehicle, the garage floor–mounted charging pad, and the wall box that provides the power. “Our ability to deliver automotive-grade power electronics at scale, combined with WiTricity’s expertise and product offerings in wireless charging technology, creates a unique partnership that is enabling this innovative 11 kW design,” says Pieter Janssen, CEO of ProDrive Technologies.
There’s more to the story, though. WiTricity thinks wireless charging will be a vital part of the emerging ridesharing economy. People simply can’t be trusted to plug in a car they use temporarily. At most, they might park it in a designated space where it can be recharged automatically and wirelessly. Even better, autonomous driving technology will soon allow a car to find its way to an available charging location, then move the car to another parking space when charging is complete so another car can use the charger. The company says the ground-mounted portion of its systems can be placed beneath a paved surface if necessary.
ProDrive says it is important to design interoperability into future wireless systems so that same equipment can be used to recharge most if not all cars on the road. Henry Ford taught us about the wonders of standardization and how it can drive down manufacturing costs. ProDrive and WiTricity want to apply those lessons to wireless charging.
The future of personal transportation involves a number of exciting prospects — electric cars, autonomous driving, and a transition to a low-carbon electrical grid, among others. High-tech wireless charging solutions may play an important role in bring them all together.
Source and image credit: Charged EVs