Automakers Making Progress in Wireless Charging Technology

Massachusetts-based WiTricity has partnered with Hyundai to develop induction-based wireless EV charging technology. (WiTricity)

The most significant aspect of electric vehicle (EV) ownership is figuring out how, when, and where to charge the car. Currently, you can complete the task at home or at a public charging station, both of which require you to drag out cables and connect them to the charger and your EV. Under the best circumstances, it’s an inconvenient process; add rain, snow, and dirt, and it becomes a big, messy hassle.

But the technology currently exists that can eliminate this crucial but unwieldy step, and more and more automakers are quietly but enthusiastically jumping aboard. Wirelessly charging your vehicle via magnetic induction—similar to how a charging pad recharges a smartphone but on a much larger scale—takes away the onus of having to deal with bulky cables and the steps to plug in your vehicle. Currently, wireless charging achieves 80-90 percent efficiency—about the same as cable charging.

Last week, Genesis debuted the GV60 electric vehicle. When it arrives stateside next year, charging must take place in the usual manner. But in Genesis’ domestic market of South Korea, the GV60 will be equipped with equipment to allow for wireless charging. According to parent company Hyundai Motor, it’s still in beta testing mode—a pilot program to gather data to further development. Massachusetts firm WiTricity has partnered with Hyundai for the past few years to develop this technology.

The BMW 530e plug-in hybrid became the first vehicle to offer wireless charging capabilities in 2019. However, it is also in the beta testing phase in limited markets in Germany and California. In addition, Nissan devotes a portion of its global website to future technology, including a wireless charging system. And Volvo’s parent company has invested in Philadelphia-based Momentum to develop high-capacity charging for commercial vehicles.

Energy is also building in the dynamic charging front, wherein you don’t even need to stop to charge your car. In July, Tech Car covered Indiana’s Department of Transportation’s intention to install roads that can charge EVs as they are driving. The road surface consists of Magment, which is cement embedded with magnetic particles that can wirelessly transfer energy from the road to the car in any weather. Israeli start-up firm Electreon is currently installing stretches of public roads in Israel and Sweden to charge EVs; they aim to establish 150 roads in Europe and Israel by 2025.

The ability to overcome some of the challenges regarding how, where, when, and the time required to charge EVs is crucial to accepting EVs as the norm. And the future points toward the liberation from some of the anxieties and pre-planning demanded of EV ownership.

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