The prospects for commercializing wireless EV charging are rapidly improving as the industry’s greatest challenges are being addressed. Auto manufacturers have shown great interest in the convenience factor of wireless charging as a way to increase demand in EVs. But without technology and performance standards, their investment in wireless charging is likely to be limited to demonstration projects and small custom fleets.
However, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the governing body whose decisions on standards carry the most weight in the global market, expects to have a final draft specification for wireless charging completed by the end of the year.
Currently the market is clogged with a variety of competing technologies (including electromagnetic induction or magnetic resonance) and charging speeds, resulting in a lack of interoperability between products. SAE established the J2954 wireless charging working group to establish wireless PEV charging standards for the minimum efficiency of power transfer, equipment positioning, wireless communications, software, interoperability, and safety.
With a draft standard in place, the move to commercialization could move much more quickly, as it did when the cabled standards for Level 1 and 2 charging were finalized by SAE. While other standards groups, such as the Geneva-based International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), may take other approaches, the SAE’s standardization of wireless is a critical first step.
As shown below, the market for wireless charging will start off slowly, and remain a niche of the overall EVSE sales, with just 5% of total revenue by 2017, according to data from Pike Research’s report, Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment.
Qualcomm, a company better known in the telecommunications industry than automotive circles, is moving closer to commercialization of its wireless charging technology. In January, the company unveiled its technology at CES and began testing a fleet of wireless-charging equipped vehicles in London. Also in January, wireless charging company Evatran signed up with financially troubled Sears to sell and install its Plugless Power equipment.
For wireless charging to reach commercialization will require large and well-connected companies such as Qualcomm, Siemens, Delphi and others to supplement the efforts of niche players such as EvaTran and WiTricity to get automakers on board. If January 2012 is any indication, the sector is poised to make major strides by year’s end.
Tags: Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles, Smart Transportation Practice, Technology Standards
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