Time is the most valuable currency of 21st century. This is why the products we are using today and will be using tomorrow have to save time instead of taking more of it. This is especially true with new, innovative technology such as electric vehicles that strive to become abundant. Ignoring the fact that EVs are still expensive, or that the electric motor is around 2x more efficient than internal combustion one, if using EV will not be significantly easier than fossil fuel cars, it’s mass market adoption will not happen any time soon. Luckily heavy investments are pouring into incremental developments of EVs making electricity-based transport more user friendly. One of those specific developments is wireless charging.
If owning and EV allows one to forget about stopping at the gas station, wireless charging proposes a solution that makes EV user to forget about charging the car. How is this possible? By employing magnetic induction and some simple software programming. How does it work? When EV returns home and stops at a parking place which has an induction plate on the ground, it starts charging EV automatically. Of course, another induction plate mounted under the car to receive the energy through magnetic field would be required.
Currently several startups, car manufacturers and energy companies are testing this technology with large public transport, delivery trucks and taxi fleets. These are the transport segments that could adopt it in the upcoming 3-4 years but to see this tech in passenger car segment, several challenges must be solved.
The biggest inconvenience today is the fact that one would need to remake an EV to use wireless charging. An induction plates would need be fixed to the bottom of the car, plugged into its system to be recognized and ready to charge the battery. This requires additional time and money, thus it possess a significant inconvenience.
Even though this tech is followed by longer operational hours for public transport and almost no reduction in efficiency it is not as simple as plug-and-charge option. To have a maximum charging efficiency the induction plates must be perfectly aligned. This means that the driver needs some additional driving skills to be able to match the plates manually or using additional built-in scanning technology.
Lastly, the additional benefits must outweigh the cost of this tech. Since it only makes it convenient EV charging without any hands-on plugging the cable work, we could probably say that this technology will be mostly popular among drivers who can afford to pay for it. Keeping in mind that it is not simply the hardware itself but the software part too, it would drive the costs of owning an EV significantly higher compared to having a simple smart charger at home.
Since the technology is being tested by the car manufacturers themselves, we can assume that OEMs will soon propose EVs with a built-in possibility to charge through magnetic induction. The same thing happening can be seen with the mobile phone manufacturers. The only part missing for such EV owner to use it would be an induction plate on the ground which should be commercially available. Such decision from car manufacturers would speed up the adoption of this technology.
Looking further into the future, using wireless charging and moving towards global EV fleet to reduce the CO2 emissions, could lead to charging decentralization. Having induction plates buried into the ground at the traffic light crossroads would enable EV charging in traffic jams. Maybe such solution would eliminate the need of owning personal wireless charging at home in the first place.
Having solved relatively small technological challenges and made wireless charging enabled EVs standard could mean faster EV adoption. If we assume we would need no less than 30 seconds to plug-in the cable for charging once a day, that would mean a win-win situation for everyone – around 3 hours of saved time per person annually and less CO2 emissions globally.
At Ignitis Innovation Hub we are always striving to find ways to reduce carbon emissions and increase our customer satisfaction by piloting latest technological solutions. Wireless charging could be one of them. If you have a technology or a business model that you think could change the way energy consumers utilize energy or energy related products, please reach us out at email@example.com or me directly firstname.lastname@example.org to find ways of cooperation.
Innovation expert at Ignitis Innovation Hub Vincentas Vitkauskas