In a world where charging electric vehicles is a main factor in advancing the energy transition, other solutions that change the way we think about charging EVs are beginning to appear as well. One of the new methods to emerge is wireless charging. Think about your smartphone over the years and how its charger has changed along with it—originally a bulky mass of box and wires evolved into a smaller, universally compatible wire with a detachable port. Now, we are able to charge our mobile devices without the use of a cord at all, but by simply laying our phone onto a small, magnetic charging plate. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pull into a designated parking place with an underground charging pad and charging your vehicle without having to even get out of your car?

What is a wireless charger and what are the benefits?

Wireless chargers takes advantage of inductive charging technology that uses two aligned magnetic coils to send an electric charge to your EV’s battery via the gap between the car and the wireless charger, eliminating the need of a charging cable entirely. Wireless charging has multiple benefits over traditional EV plugs, some of which include faster, more convenient EV charging, universal charging plates, and “on the move” charging. Currently, the only manufacturer of wireless EV chargers in north America is Plugless Power, who has a patent on wireless EV charging plates. Currently, you can only find these types of chargers located in high-tech business parking lots, like Google and Apple.

What are the current obstacles of wireless chargers?

Wireless charging for electric vehicles is not without some obstacles. As power transfer rates increase, the size and complexity of the power management system must also increase. Above all, as the power is raised to accommodate the needs of a wireless charger, a number of additional factors needs to be considered such as thermal management and losses. With higher power and heat losses, there is more that must be done to manage that heat to protect the battery. One solution to heat protection is solid-state batteries, which have no flammable liquid to be concerned about, which in turn allow for higher heat tolerance.

What does the future look like for EV charging?

Within the decade, wireless chargers will become part on the norm, along with other methods of charging such as battery swapping. Wireless chargers hold a lot of promise for the future of electrified vehicles.
Charging “on the go” with electrified roads is a relatively new project in North America. This idea introduces the concept of a wireless EV charging system that uses magnetic frequency to transfer power from coils buried underground to a receiver pad attached to the car’s underbelly. Along an electrified road, vehicles with wireless charging capability can take in energy as they drive, but for all other cars it’s a typical road. Vehicles that charge “on the go” can use smaller, cheaper batteries. For example, a taxi waiting at the airport for its passenger could add 10 minutes of charging without having to plug in whatsoever.
A road like this actually already exists in Norway, charging electric freight vehicles as they drive along the it, never having to stop to charge up. A similar roadway is currently being built in Detroit and should be ready to drive along in 2023, making it the very first electrified road in the US. Wireless charging offers a wide net of new possibilities for electric vehicles, and we are only just at the very beginning.