WiTricity plans to make electric vehicle charging as easy as parking for light vehicles first and loading for commercial fleets. WiTricity CEO, Alex Gruzen, reveals how WiTricity will lead the wireless charging for all types of vehicles.
“The first examples for wireless charging are light-duty vehicles. You park. Then, you can just walk away,” says Gruzen. A vehicle with a receiving pad connected to the charging system parks over the transmitting pad.
“Electrification is going at an exciting pace. In the automotive industry now, we still have our early adopters. But we need to reach the rest of the population on how to make the best possible charging experience, that is through wireless charging.”
BMW was the first to launch with a wireless charging option already installed. In 2020, SAE set the standards for wireless EV charging, called SAE J2954. Recently, Hyundai announced that the Genesis GV60 will be offering wireless charging options. Also, a significant Chinese automaker will be introducing the feature, says Gruzen.
He expects wireless charging to be coming to light vehicles in the next two to three years.
The state incentives for vehicle charging is the same for any type of charging including WiTricity charger systems. Installing a wireless charging system is easy.
“It is as simple as charging a Level 2 wall box and charger in a typical garage.”
The technology is safe. When there is an unidentified object on the pad, it will shut off. The technology in WiTricity is electromagnetic induction.
It is as safe as an induction cooktop, explains Gruzen.
Wireless Charging for Fleets
The next area for wireless charging for electric vehicles and fleets. It becomes more cost-effective to have vehicles charge while at the loading dock or unloading dock. The need for total megawatts can be reduced by slowly charging, while vehicles are loading. Additionally, fast-charging the vehicles when they are not in use can be more expensive at electricity peak high-cost rate times and also require a higher megawatt capacity, says Gruzen.
WiTricity tech is deployed in an electric taxi trial in Nottingham, England. The Wireless Charging of Electric Taxis (WiCET) is funded by the UK government’s Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles. It features electric taxis using WiTricity licensed tech deployed by Lumen Freedom.
Gruzen warns that the best way for charging is for drivers is not to have to pull over and wait for DC fast charging for 30 to 40 minutes.
“We want to make the charging experience just as easy as parking with no need to plug and charge. WiTricity makes charging as simple and convenient as possible,” says Gruzen.
“I understand the need to have a major charging point like between Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, it is much more convenient to charge where you park or load.”
The next commercial products coming from WiTricity will be able to do DC fast charging in the next couple of years for vans and trucks, he says.
Managing charging times for the cheapest electricity rates will eventually be part of the charging fleet software as well as payments, says Gruzen.
There are many conveniences provided by wireless charging. DC fast chargers have an 80 lb cable that can be difficult to handle. Buses can be charged while waiting on a route instead of needing two electric buses. Plus, charging stations are prone to vandalism because of the copper wire inside.
Wireless charging stations are embedded into the ground and hardwired and cannot easily be tampered with.
The Future of Wireless EV Charging
“We are still in the early stages on how to make access to EVs fantastic. We also need to set the stage for an autonomous future because autonomous vehicles do not have people in them to plug in the chargers,” says Gruzen.
He predicts that in the future of EV charging, that deployment will be similar to notebook computers. People used to come into a conference room and plug in their Network cord.
“While I was at HP, notebooks used to have a network cable and connector. When we were in a conference room, we had to plug into the network. When Wi-Fi came out, we got rid of the cord and HP could only sell notebook computers with wireless Wi-Fi connections. That was within three years,” concludes Gruzen, who believes vehicle charging will become wireless like that in future.
Gruzen will be speaking on the first day of MOVE America in Austin, Texas, on September 28.