After a lot of speculation from the beginning of last year, Tesla has now officially confirmed that they are developing a wireless inductive home charger for its electric vehicles.
Tesla & The Wireless Charging
Initially, Tesla was not in favour of wireless charging and they might have reasons for that. Designing and installing a wireless charging station is an expensive activity and when we look at wireless charging it doesn’t add much value to the overall EV experience. Wireless charging just eliminates the requirement for you to plug in your car to the charging port which is a simple and quick operation if you do it manually.
However, Tesla has already discussed automating the process to prepare for the development of self-driving technologies. It would make sense for the cars to be able to charge themselves without needing a person to plug them in if they were capable of driving alone.
If you remember the funny videos, Tesla has always preferred an automated robotic arm which looks like a snake over wireless charging for this purpose, but things have lately changed.
How The Rumour Began
Earlier in 2023, during an investors meeting, Tesla put a picture of a Tesla Model S which is supposedly charged wirelessly. Apart from sharing this photo as part of a presentation, the company never made any comments on this Regard. But Tesla almost bought a company that specialises in wireless charging before giving it back, but not before hiring several of its employees.
But now it is confirmed that Tesla is developing a wireless home charging station when Tesla’s lead designer, Franz von Holzhausen acknowledged that the company is working on the technology in a Jay Leno video regarding the Cybertruck.
Now let us look at How EVs are charged wirelessly
Wireless Charging Of EVs
Electric vehicles may be charged wirelessly via electromagnetic induction charging, which eliminates the need for a physical connection to a charging station.
In induction charging, Energy is transferred between two magnetic coils for wireless charging to happen. One of them is on the ground-level charging pad, which is attached to the power source; the second coil is inserted into your car’s charging receiver. Energy is sent wirelessly from the charger to the car battery to charge the EV.
Benefits & Scope of Wireless EV Chargers
For over 15 years, wireless charging technology has been put under the test for electronic gadgets. In 2011, the first induction charger trials for electric vehicles were started. International automakers and potential start-ups alike are attempting to incorporate this technology into their mass-produced vehicles. By 2028, Siemens projects that the wireless EV charging market in North America and Europe will grow to $2 billion.
Owing to its advantages, car wireless chargers may represent a new stage in the global development of the infrastructure for charging. According to a US study conducted by independent market research company Qualtrics, 96% of respondents said they would want to have access to wireless charging. This feature is more in demand than fully autonomous vehicles.
Why Should We Endorse Wireless Charging?
All being said, in my personal opinion setting up a wireless charging station at home is not that great of an idea as it is very expensive. You have to install the charging pod in your garage and conceal it with concrete and the related infrastructure is also expensive.
However wireless EV charging stations may be included in road infrastructure, such as stops, traffic signals, and parking lots. This will reduce charging times and enable drivers to replenish their batteries while using their vehicles daily.
In a public charging station wireless charging can be more effective because the traditional charging stations have the below given drawbacks.
Drawbacks of traditional charging
- The demand for charging ports is higher than the capacity
- Traditional chargers are usually lower speed. At Level 2 stations fully charging an EV might take up to 10 hours, and at high-speed stations for up to 1 hour.
- Drivers must contend with disparate charging network and connection standards while using EVs as there are many charging standards.
These problems can be counteracted by wireless charging because they have these advantages
Advantages of Wireless EV Charging
- Lack of charging wires: cables do not need to be kept safe or stored.
- Convenience and speed: Drivers don’t have to get out of their cars
- Safety: By lowering the chance of electric shock, inductive car charging may be less dangerous than traditional stations.
- Energy efficiency: Inductive charging has an efficiency of up to 96%
While it is possible to overcome all of these issues, most are likely to endure since they need significant expenditures in modern infrastructure and a worldwide strategy. Governments and multinational firms must step in to fix these issues; individual companies cannot do it alone. However, wireless charging technology for electric vehicles is an option that provides a practical and dependable solution to the majority of issues faced by EV drivers.
What’s To Expect In The Recent Years
Major automakers have been working on wireless charging design concepts in recent years. Volvo Cars worked with Swedish taxi companies to test this technology in urban settings. Two Kangoo ZE cars were outfitted with Qualcomm Technologies wireless chargers by Renault Group in 2017. It tested dynamic electric car charging, with a charging power of 20 kW and operating at up to 100 km/h. Many other notable advancements have been made in the field of wireless charging.
Now, Let’s examine the manufacturers of electric vehicle charging stations in more detail.
The American company WiTricity was established in 2007 and now has a patent for a technology known as wireless energy transmission via magnetic resonance. Although the company first developed hardware and software for contactless charging in 2017, the technology was first utilised to power laptops and mobile phones.
WiTricity inked partnerships with General Motors, Nissan Motor, and Hyundai Motor Company to develop and test wireless charging, making it one of the first companies to offer its technology as a factory application to major OEMs. A Tesla Model 3 demonstration vehicle with wireless charging was unveiled in December 2021.
Brusa Elektronik AG
Brusa Elektronik AG was established in Switzerland in 1985. The company was among the first to implement advancements in electric mobility and transportation even back then. It started developing contactless charging stations for electric vehicles in 2013.
Being one of the earliest manufacturers of electric car charging stations, Brusa introduced inductive charging for the BMW 530e iPerformance in 2018. The charging system identifies alien objects, including animals, and conforms with ISO-26262 functional safety standards. It also has protection against overvoltage and overheating.
Easelink is an Austrian firm that has been operating since 2016. They are creating “Matrix Charging,” an automated conductive charging system with a connector on the underside of the automobile and a charging plate on the ground. The way the system operates is, as the car parks on top of the charged plate, lowering its connection onto it to start charging.
To evaluate and incorporate wireless charging into consumers’ daily lives, Easelink has started several projects. For example, they have opened a test site for taxis in Vienna, Austria.
In my opinion, wireless EV charging is a great addition to self-driving cars. Tesla’s initial approach of robotic arm sounds great but achieving it is not that simple. The robotic arm has to find the charging port, open the lid, and plug it in; these operations require precision parking of the vehicle and a lot more software support for the hardware.
Whereas inductive charging is much easier and the cost would be around the same as the robotic arm. However, I find much more scope for wireless charging in the public charging station and other public areas because of the advantages mentioned earlier.