Even though recent years have seen an increase in the numbers of electric vehicles as well as charging stations, these are still not the most popular choice as people harbor fears of getting stranded far away from home if they run out of electrical power. This has paved way for car makers such as Nissan and BMW to start seriously considering the use of wireless charging in their vehicles, enabling them to be charged anywhere from the parking lot to the road itself.
Wireless charging, as expected, implies applying current to a battery without the need for physical contact. Such technology has already seen use in mobile devices such as smartphones and it is hoped that its implementation in EVs would make them a more attractive choice.
Pike Research has projected that as much as 280,000 wireless charging systems could be sold as part of EVs come 2020. This is expected to be the trend with more and more auto makers looking for solutions to range anxiety, that is, getting stranded when you run out of battery power.
Over the past year, the principal EV manufacturers have all declared deals with other companies to investigate the technology. This is mainly due to this same “range anxiety” which is the bane of owners of EVs and is also a deterrent for those who do not yet own one. Richard Martin, the editorial director explained that addressing these concerns could potentially determine whether people continue to buy EVs as “they have also made other benefits of wireless charging, including the alleviation of range anxiety through frequent, brief top-offs via embedded, automatic wireless charging systems, much more evident.”
Presently, the only way to charge an EV is by plugging directly into a source and waiting for it to be fully charged before setting off. Thus, incorporating wireless charging devices embedded into roads and parking spaces would help prolong the range of electric vehicles so that they can compete at levels similar to that of their gas-driven counterparts.
In June, Nissan estimated that by 2015, it would add wireless charging as an option to its 2015 four-door Infiniti LE luxury EV and BMW has been working on the technology with Siemens since June 2011. An added feature to increase efficient charging has been implemented by Nissan in its Leaf EVs with automatic parking which enables parking precisely over a charging plate.
Although BMW and Nissan are fast moving on to actual implementation, it turns out that Italy has been powering their buses with the technology for a decade. Hence, the electric buses in Turin do not have to stop to fully recharge when they embark on a 200 km journey. There, the wireless charging plates can be found at all the bus stops and terminals, giving up to a 15 % boost to the battery at each stop.