Forget building costly charging stations for residents; forget the charging cable: breakthroughs in inductive charging for electric vehicles (evs) means drivers just park over a pad in the road to get more juice
With no need to plug in to charge, it’s a breakthrough that should speed up the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EV) in multifamily.
Charging an EV is a laborious process. The owner has to find a charging point, connect up their cable and leave the car for some hours. It’s inconvenient, and cables can easily get lost or damaged.
Wireless power transfer technology was developed decades ago, but low efficiency meant it was restricted to industrial settings, providing power for robotic vehicles and cranes, for example. That is finally changing.
The wireless system relies on the well-known principle of electromagnetic induction. A magnetic field generated by an alternating current in a primary coil induces a current in a nearby secondary coil. What is new is technology that allows for an energy-transfer efficiency of 90 per cent or higher.
Engineers John Boyes and Grant Covic at the University of Auckland in New Zealand worked out the optimal design for the shape of the coils to minimize energy losses. They also figured out how power can be transferred when the coils are misaligned – so it still functions even if you are terrible at parking.
Two firms – IPT Technology of Efringen-Kirchen in Germany and Qualcomm Halo of London – have licensed the Auckland patents and are developing their own variants.
Toyota has announced that it will begin actual verification testing of its new wireless battery-charging system for electric vehicles, one that charges the battery of a plug-in hybrid or a pure-electric car by having the car park on top of it.
This technology would eliminate the need for physically plugging in an electric car or a hybrid. It also has the potential to act as a universal charging station, reducing the need for multiple charging stations and plug standards.
Toyota is also testing a new parking-assist system that would help the driver to position the car in a parking spot for the wireless charging system to charge the car’s battery. In prototype form, this technology has been coupled with Toyota’s existing Intelligent Parking Assist system.
Wireless battery charging system should make recharging more convenient.
This isn’t a typical auto maker test in controlled research facility conditions. Three modified Priuses have been given to customers in Aichi Prefecture in Japan. For one year, customers will test ease of use, user satisfaction, misalignment rates and charging behavior. Following the successful completion of this test, Toyota hopes to introduce wireless charging in existing plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Wireless charging could be only a couple of years away, but infrastructure will need more time to catch up. Installing this kind of system in your home is one thing; it’ll be another for multifamily property owners to offer these in their parking garages or parking lots. The underlying technology is not that far-fetched; it has already been marketed with cellphones that use a miniature version of this technology.