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Wireless EV Charging: A Look at the Future of Electric Vehicles

The global EV market will likely reach £2.80 billion by 2030, up from 1.32 billion in 2021. This means EV owners can finally get rid of heavy and costly charging cables and charge their EVs wirelessly, just like you charge your phone.

If you’re new to the concept of wireless EV charging, keep reading, as you’ll learn:

  • What is wireless charging, and how does it work?
  • Benefits of wireless charging
  • When will wireless charging become mainstream?

Let’s get started.

What Is Wireless Charging And How Does It Work?

Wireless EV charging refers to charging an electric vehicle wirelessly without a charging cable. It might sound unrealistic, but hang in there, and we’ll delve deep into how wireless EV charging is entirely possible, and it could even be the future of electric vehicles.

You might have noticed that various flagship smartphones nowadays support wireless charging. Smartphone companies like Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus have phones with wireless charging capabilities. These phones have lithium-ion batteries. A wireless charger generates a magnetic induction, and the battery absorbs it. Therefore, wireless charging is also known as an inductive charging system or induction charging.

Wireless charging systems in electric cars follow the same principle but on a larger scale. The method comprises two pads, one wireless charging pad on the ground and the other under the EVs floor.

When the two pads align together, the charging begins. The energy transfer takes place using resonant magnetic induction. The charging speeds can vary, from 3.3kW to 20kW.

Even though wireless EV charging isn’t fast, that’s not the point. If wireless charging comes to the mainstream, it could eliminate the “charge anxiety” among people. EV drivers won’t need to wait at charging stations for hours. Wireless charging can even enable charging while driving as well.

Qualcomm, a wireless technology and innovation company, has been working on a wireless EV charging technology called Halo since 2012.

Does Wireless Car Charging Actually Work?

Wireless inductive charging sounds fascinating, but does it actually work? The technology is currently in the testing stage. Qualcomm demonstrated how wireless charging works at the ePrix in Paris. Once the two pads aligned with each other, the charging began until the engine was turned off. The wireless charging system had a power rating of 20 kWh, which isn’t the fastest but quite decent.

Qualcomm also addresses some common safety and security concerns associated with static wireless charging. For instance, there shouldn’t be any foreign object between the two charging pads. If the system detects such an object, it will automatically turn off the charging. The EV owner will get a notification informing them about a foreign object.

Though EV owners may have to wait at least a couple of years to enjoy wireless charging, the initial tests have been promising.

The Current Status of Dynamic Wireless Charging

Qualcomm is presently testing its Halo wireless charging technology on Formula E. The company estimates that it will take 18-24 months for the technology to come to market. Wireless charging will be available via original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), as Qualcomm licenses its tech instead of selling it.

Qualcomm isn’t the only company working on wireless dynamic charging. BMW announced they’ve been working on world-first production-ready wireless chargers since 2018. The tech will first be seen in BMWs plug-in hybrid models. These vehicles will comprise two pads: a ground pad sitting on the ground and a car pad connecting to the EV’s battery.

BMW also stated that the wireless charging technology would be for right-hand drive EV markets, and it will be available on a leasing deal only.

Static vs Dynamic EV Charging

Presently, EV manufacturers working on wireless charging are aiming for static wireless charging. However, dynamic wireless charging could be the next big thing in the EV space. Dynamic EV charging means charging a vehicle while it is in motion. This technology would allow you to charge an EV while driving.

Tesla Model 3

Benefits of Wireless EV Charging

Wireless charging has many benefits. Though charging using cables has its advantages, it has limitations too. Wireless charging helps overcome those limitations. Let’s look at the key benefits of wireless charging of commercial vehicles.

No Wires

The biggest benefit of wireless technology is the lack of wires. EV owners no longer need to carry heavy charging cables and plug them into their cars at every charging station. This helps EV owners overcome range anxiety and drive their EVs without wires.

Reduced Accident Risk

Though EV charging cables are durable, they are prone to wear and tear and get damaged over time. Damaged wires can be potentially hazardous to not only the EV but also its owner. Therefore, it’s essential to replace damaged cables, which is quite costly. If you live in areas with adverse weather conditions, you may have to replace your wires often.

Increased Convenience

Buying an EV is an investment, so you must ensure that it’s convenient. Wireless charging makes it convenient to drive an EV. You don’t have to worry about plugging your EV into a charger every morning before leaving for work. With dynamic charging being considered the future technology, you won’t even need to stop at an off-street parking station to charge your EV. You’ll be able to charge your car on the go.

Save More Time

Along with better convenience, EV charging helps you save time. You don’t need to wait at a charging point for hours to charge your EV. With dynamic EV charging, you can charge your car on the go, which will help you save time. Besides, you can charge wirelessly anytime and anywhere, including your home, office, market, etc.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Wireless Charging?

Wireless charging has myriad benefits, and it could become a revolutionary technology in the near future. However, there are some concerns regarding the power management of wireless charging systems and how successful they will be.

One of the major concerns surrounding wireless charging is energy loss. When an EV is charged wirelessly, there will be significant energy loss. The loss is minimal in the case of lamp post charging using cables.

Another concern is the potential health effects of wireless charging. Since the tech uses a magnetic field to charge the battery, the person sitting inside the car will get exposed to it. There’s no concrete research on the effects of magnetic fields on humans, making it a controversial topic.

Conclusion: Is Wireless EV Charging the Future?

Even though wireless electric car charging technology is in its primordial stage, it’s safe to assume that it will revolutionise the EV market. Several electric car makers have started working on wireless charging tech. In the next 18 to 24 months, we can witness substantial developments in the wireless EV charging space.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does an EV wireless charging pad work?

Wireless charging in electric vehicles uses resonant magnetic induction, and hence, it’s also called inductive charging. The wireless charging pad generates a magnetic field which is then absorbed by the EV’s battery using the receiving pad in the vehicle.

Which electric car has wireless charging?

Wireless charging is still a new concept, and only a handful of EV manufacturers offer it. Plugless Power is one of the industry leaders in wireless charging of electric vehicles. Several big players in the EV space, like Tesla, Nissan, and BMW, are racing towards implementing wireless charging technology.

How much does a wireless car charger cost?

Plugless Power, the leading supplier of wireless charging solutions, offers a third-gen wireless charger for $3,500 (£2600). Besides, there will be installation costs not yet disclosed by the company. Overall, you can expect to spend at least £2600 on buying and installing a wireless EV charger.

How efficient is wireless EV charging?

Recent tests show that wireless EV charging has an efficiency of 92% ±2%, which is similar to the efficiency of wired charging. Though there are speculations that wireless charging is less efficient and causes energy loss, recent tests indicate that it’s as effective as charging using cables.

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