Coming Soon: Standards for Wireless Electric Car Charging
The day when we can all recharge our plug-in electric vehicle wirelessly is getting closer. The Society of Automotive Engineers recently announced that it would in 2014 issue a standard frequency for wireless power transfer for light duty, electric, and plug-in electric vehicles. The standard will provide a foundation for more companies to begin commercialization of their wireless charging products, Jack Pokyzrwa, director of ground vehicle standards at SAE told PluginCars.com.
“You have to have a certain foundation and a core agreed upon to build the commercial aspects and compete based on that,” he said.
The standard is also crucial to avoid needless waste of resources, added Pokyzrwa. He pointed to the connector market—with its several standards including SAE’s J1772 and CHAdeMO, as an example of what happens when companies developing products for an industry don’t have a standard to follow. “If the industry had started early and agreed upon a standard we might have avoided a lot of issues,” said Pokyzrwa.
The nominal frequency for wireless power transfer—also known as inductive charging—will be 85 kHz. A team composed of automakers, suppliers, industry experts and government representatives will complete the Technical Information Report, which involves field data confirmation, in early 2014. Then the standard, to be known as SAE J2954, will be published, said Pokyzrwa.
The standard will be international, or at least mostly international. The Chinese are not part of the group working on the standard, said Pokyzrwa. The head of the team is from a European automaker, he said. “When you look at companies right now they are approaching things from a global perspective,” said Pokyzrwa.
Small But Growing Market
Owners of the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt can already choose a wireless charging option using Evatran’s Parking Pad, a 240V Level 2 wireless charger. Evatran’s website says it is talking to other EV makers about using its wireless charging.
Bosch Automotive Service Solutions is the exclusive installer of the Parking Pad, which Evatran said will fully recharge a Volt in about thre hours and a LEAF in eight hours. If an owner already has a plug-in charging station but wants to install wireless charging as well, Bosch can install a switch that allows the user to choose which method to use.
At around $3,000, including the Parking Pad, control panel, hardware, and installation—the Parking Pad is more expensive than a plug-in Level 2 charger, some of which cost well below $1,000. The comparatively higher price makes the standard even more important, Lisa Jerram, a senior analyst at Navigant Research, told PluginCars.com.
“You definitely need to maximize the usage,” she said.
Despite the higher price, Navigant Research sees fairly rapid growth for the wireless charging market over the next seven years. The firm’s 2013 Electric Charging Equipment Report forecasts that sales of wireless charging equipment for light duty vehicle in North America will grow by a compounded annual growth rate of 92 percent from 2013 to 2020, to 40,000 units. Globally, sales in 2020 will be 208,000, said the report.
Standards that will ensure interoperability, such as the one being worked on now, are key to widespread use of wireless charging, said Jerram. “We still think the market is a year or two away from seeing larger commercialization, in part because some of these standards issues are being worked through,” she said. “I do think that one of the key things is interoperability. At a minimum to give the chargers a wider potential market but also you don’t want a public wireless charger that cannot be used by all drivers.”
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