2013 The Year of Wireless Charging


Wireless charging has long been a buzzword in the world of technology, especially electric cars. In recent projections based on the studies conducted by Pike Research, the sales of wireless charging technology would jump to more than 280,000 starting 2013, peaking at 2020.

The think tank identified several points of growth, such as the increasing partnerships between several electric vehicle companies and manufacturers that fuels both the demand and innovations in the technology.

The technology is quite simple and operates when an electric car parks over a ground pad. This in turn creates an electromagnetic field that is convertedinto electric current in the car in order to charge the battery. There are no wires involved in this process and ground pads can even be embedded in structures and roadways to make the process much more accessible to all.

This is one of the areas that can tremendously influence future car purchases, as this would create a “park and forget” mentality, allowing for continuous charging without the active knowledge of the car owner. The potential for frequent stops where wireless charging is available could help in alleviating many consumers ‘range anxiety’ with electric cars.

There is also great importance in the market itself for this kind of technology as several large technology and car manufacturers have started to form partnerships specifically to undertake research and create wireless charging systems. One such example is BMW, which has forged agreements with Siemens on wireless charging. Audi, Mitsubishi and Toyota have a consortium with WiTriCity and Delphi, while Qualcomm has partnered with Renault and Delta Motorsports. Evatran has also entered into research agreements with Google and Hertz.

Nissan has taken great measure in integrating the wireless technology with its new models, such as allowing the vehicle to park itself to be able to fully utilize and be efficient with regards to wireless technology.  This is showcased in the newest Infiniti electric sub compact and would become available by 2015. The Japanese automaker has stated that its system is between eighty to ninety percent efficient, which is not far from standard wired charging.

There have been pockets of usage for wireless recharging technology. Italian bus companies have been using it for over ten years now, with each stop able to recharge up to fifteen percent of battery capacity. This is predicted to have the best utilization in other public transportation platforms, such as electric taxis.

Despite its great promise there are still some limitations, such as changing infrastructure to allow the integration of wireless pads in roads and motorways, as well as the retrofitting of current electric vehicles to become compatible with the newer charging technology.  This is in reality the ‘next big thing’ that is already here, providing great solutions for many issues in choosing electric car technology. As more and more companies and consortiums become focused on the technology, the next generation of electric carts would certainly provide better options for the electric car connoisseur.

Italy’s Wireless Electric Buses


One of the main reasons why electric vehicles are not being viewed to form part of public mass transportation is the need for frequent stops at charging depots. This limitation may soon become a thing of the past, as new technologies especially in the realm of wireless charging technology can make electric vehicles viable for mass transport use. The Weil am Rhein, Germany based company Conductix-Wampfler has introduced the public bus system of the future has been operating in the streets of Italian cities Torino and Genoa for the past ten years.

The Conductix-Wampfler IPT Charge system currently operates on thirty buses in the northern cities of Italy. The main recharging system uses a primary coil charging unit on the road surface of bus stops, terminals and hubs. There is secondary coil attached to the bus chassis that receives the charge. Each time a bus stops at a charging station, the coils are positioned within forty millimeters or about an inch of the half of each other.

Overnight the batteries of these buses are recharged at the bus depot and then recharged at each charging point during the bus route. This topping off would ensure sufficient range available for the battery to reach the next station as this refreshes the system between ten to fifteen percent of the battery capacity according to the German firm. This can even be done when passengers board and exit the vehicles.

The Torino bus route travels about 200 kilometers or 125 miles per day without a need to require a stop for a prolonged period or return to the depot for charging. This is not new, as early as the 1950s through the many urban areas throughout the United States. The electricity was delivered through overhead wires carrying power from the grid to the pivoting relays on the roofs of these buses. Quite a few remain as these electric systems have given way to buses that are powered by internal combustion engines.

The transfer system is done through inductive power transfer that Conductix-Wampfler sends 95 percent of the charge to the secondary coil, with the five percent loss considered as negligible. The central technology here is magnetic resonance coupling, which is also used in charge pads or mat technology in mobile devices. Even with the many companies putting their technological expertise into the field, only a very few companies have lasted for the last ten years successfully.

One of the major concerns is the health effect of the magnetic field on passengers and users. In response, the company says that the passengers and users are situated far from the relay coils and the magnetic field values are below the guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, a nonprofit scientific watchdog group.

Another drawback is the cost of the electric buses compared to the cost of an internal combustion engine bus. Conductix-Wampfler currently estimates that the payback period of about four years at current prices of U.S. $9,000 per year compared to the U.S. $50,000 of diesel fuel vehicles.

Conductix-Wampfler is also working with Daimler to create a plug free charging system for passenger cars. It also has in the offing pilot and test projects of its technologies in two key cities in the United States, namely Los Angeles, CA and Chattanooga, TN.

New Calls for E.V. Standardization Made


The recent events that occurred with electric vehicles have caused much concern for the industry. The recent battery fire with the Chevrolet Volt during testing and the Fisker Karma recall has put safety and storage of lithium ion batteries on the front page news.

All throughout history, when new technology becomes more available, only then would standards to guide its production and use are created and carried out. The path that must be created include the adoption of EV builders the common standards to govern all of its creations.

For this, the American National Standards Institute issued its recommended standardization road map. This is a122 page document designed to pinpoint where gaps exist between manufacturer’s ability and market implementation. This report offers what standards agency SAE International terms as “voluntary consensus” guidelines instead of governmental regulation with the force of law.

According to James McCabe, Senior Director of Standards Facilitation at the institute said, “The United States needs a coordinated approach. We saw it happening in other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia. There are no specific industry-wide standards that address the storage of lithium-ion batteries. This is a key safety concern, because they are likely to be stored in all sorts of situations, from repair facilities to swapping stations.”

The authors of the road map have identified battery storage and care as one of the major area requiring near-term standards. One of the bigger aspects is storage risk and must be evaluated based on several factors, such as state of charge, mechanical wholeness and battery age.”

This coming Monday, Massachusetts would become the second state in the Union to issue specialized special licensed plates for plug in electric cars. The first one was Hawaii and it is aimed to provide risk and caution for first responders in reporting accidents involving these kinds of vehicles.

Another new technology that the road map touched on was wireless charging. This kind of technology dispenses with the need for plugs and plug-ins, which is now near fruition into commercial use. As a carrot, the U.S. Department of Energy has offered a $12 million grant for companies that can put up production-feasible wireless charging systems built into a fleet of market ready and grid connected electric vehicles.

The wireless standards are underway from SAE International. The first guidelines would be released from the institute would be due out in 2012. Another firm, Underwriters Laboratories, is also developing safety standards for wireless. With interest in wireless charging at an al time high, the standards would help companies retain viability, competitiveness and efficiency.

Audi EV Program Goes One Step Further


One of the highlights in the ongoing Frankfurt Motor Show is the Audi electric concept. The Audi Concept is called the A2 and it has all the elements of a roadster and racecar, fun car and city car. It has 480 kilograms allowing for seating for two individuals, with a sliding roof for entry that can remain open for sun while on the road.

According to the company, the technological innovations are geared for individuals who are interested in the technology and are interested about new designs appropriate for their age and status. The specific target market are those urbanites whose lifestyle reflects modernity as well as driving acumen.

The A2 concept car is made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) with the car’s driver cockpit is a CFRP monocoque with an aluminum structure. This full construction makes it ultra lightweight with a low curb weight of 480 kg. The wishbone suspension is a combination of CFRP and aluminum located with freestanding 21 inch wheels.

The car used cladding technology allowing 21 inch wheels are very light with a variant of the blade design from the Audi e-tron models. Overall, the car’s wheel measurements are 125/60 for the front wheels and 145/50 for the back wheels. The vehicle also uses pushrod technology, allowing for four disc brakes for more stopping power, similar to what is used in Formula One cars. As a result, the turning circle measures in at nine meters, which is deal for city streets. The steering does not need extra power because of the low weight of the vehicle.

For safety, there are crumple zones both at the front and rear areas with two airbags for a greater degree of passive safety. There is also an assistance system assisting the driver to avoid pedestrians and other road hazards.

The A2 car’s battery is mounted behind the seats and the 90 kg lithium-ion battery is able to store 7.1 kWh of electrical energy. The vehicle’s electric motors produce 15 kW of continuous power and 47 Nm of torque. The motors have single speed transmission and mounted behind the rear wheels. The vehicle can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 16.9 seconds and is able to reach 60 km/h in six seconds. The driving range is about 45 miles and a full recharge can be obtained in 20 minutes using a 400 volt three phase current and an hour with a 230-volt household current.

Audi has also introduced Audi Wireless Charging (AWC). This new concept allows for contactless induction charging, which uses a coil and an inverter (AC/AC converter). When the vehicle is placed in a parking lot with a special plate connected to the power grid, the 3.6 kW primary coil set on the plate generates a high-frequency alternating field thus charging the car’s battery through an alternating magnetic field that induces an alternating current across the air gap in the secondary coil in the vehicle. Only when the vehicle is directly over the plate can the process occur and the coils are specific to one another.