In August 2020, Lumen Freedom, a leading global manufacturer of wireless charging systems for electrified vehicles, announced that it had joined hands with McLaren Automotive and has begun supplying the British marquee with Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) systems for its Speedtail Hyper-GT.
Auto Futures caught up with Rod Wilson, General Manager of Lumen Freedom, to discover more.
“The traditional business for Lumen is Automotive genuine accessories and OE component supply to the global OEMs and industrial sectors,” says Wilson.
“Lumen Freedom is a separate company and is dedicated to the development, integration and manufacturing of Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC). Lumen is a privately owned company comprising 12 facilities across the world, including manufacturing, engineering, logistics, graphics and business development.”
Operating from an advanced, secure, technical centre based in Melbourne, Australia, Lumen Freedom is extremely proud of its Australian roots and the fact its products are ‘Made in Australia’.
However, when it comes to sales, the company’s focus is less domestic and more international, and as Wilson explains: “Australia is very slow on the uptake of EVs and our efforts are focused on the markets outside of Australia.”
“The technology is inductive charging. We are a licensee of Witricity (WiT) and have access to a broad range of patents held by WiT,” speaking about the technology powering Lumen Freedom’s products. In fact, the partnership with Witricity was a major event for Lumen Freedom, which happened only in June this year, where the two companies entered into a technology licensing agreement.
This agreement meant that Lumen Freedom is now able to develop and commercialise products using WiTricity’s patented magnetic resonance technology for electrified vehicles.
So what does this mean for the company? In short, it means that Lumen Freedom now has access to industry leading technology and intellectual property, coupled with extensive engineering knowledge and support through Witricity.
Removing the Need for Humans…
Coming back to the partnership with McLaren, Wilson says that the partnership had, in fact, been forged in 2017.
“Our initial release is for home-based static charging, with future developments working towards semi-dynamic and fully-dynamic charging whilst driving,” he says. “The efficiency of WEVC is the same as plug in systems and sometimes can deliver better results than traditional plug in systems.
“WEVC is the emerging charging mode of choice for EVs and is gaining prominence with the major OEMs, energy and infrastructure providers across the globe. As autonomous vehicle development matures, WEVC will fill the last link in the chain by removing the need for a human interface to secure vehicle charging.”
“We are working with a number of OEMs on WEVC programs for release on future vehicles; this development work is conducted under strict security,” says Wilson, elaborating on some of the efforts that the company is undertaking to make its presence felt in the global electric mobility space. “The interest has been overwhelming without any respite, the appetite for WEVC has no boundaries,” he adds.
And rightfully so, especially from the consumer’s standpoint. WEVC technology offers a hands-free, efficient, clean and unobtrusive means of charging, where one doesn’t have to compromise on the performance levels at all. In fact, the performance levels are equal to or greater than that of cable systems.
Lumen Freedom is certain that WEVC will soon become the charging mode of choice with many vehicle manufacturers planning implementation of this new technology on future models.
But that said, Wilson admits that the space comes with its own set of challenges. He tells us: “This is a balancing act between uptake and demand from the OEMs and protecting for the future roll-out from the infrastructure groups. We are working across all areas of the mobility sector to ensure that a seamless and planned roll-out of WEVC is achieved.”
Dirty, ugly, theft-prone cables will be eliminated
When asked about what his outlook for the WEVC space is, Wilson said: “I would expect in 10 years’ time 80% of vehicles will be WEVC capable and WEVC will share the charging landscape with high KW fast charge systems on a 80% WEVC 20% DC fast charge.”
“WEVC will be installed into dedicated charging lanes on freeways, where charging is capable at speeds in excess of 100kph, including airports; taxi ranks who will adopt rolling Semi Dynamic systems. Shopping centres and existing parking real estate will be utilised to install
WEVC which will not intrude into the urban landscape like plug-in,” he added, speaking about some of the applications of WEVC that he envisions in the future.
“Visual pollution will be eliminated including graffiti, as will be costly plug-in maintenance. There will be no need to buy expensive plots of inner city and highway side land to accommodate plug-in parking lots. WEVC makes EV charging possible for handicapped and older restricted motorists, who would not be able to secure a plug-in cable over the roof of a vehicle.”
“Dirty, ugly, theft-prone cables will be eliminated,” he concludes.