Progress on Wireless EV Charging Continues, But Is It Useful?
I suppose that every few weeks we will hear about another successful demonstration of wireless charging of electric vehicles. The latest came yesterday when Evatran, an engineering company formally known as MTC Transformers, said that it had installed wireless charging for Hertz, Duke Energy and Clemson University.
Going wireless makes some sense to me when it comes to public charging, because management of the cords in a public environment could be problematic. But frankly, I just don’t understand the advantage of wireless charging at home—where about 95 percent of EV charging takes place. Even last night when I realized at midnight that my LEAF wasn’t plugged in, and a fine mist was coming down, it took me all of 20 seconds to walk to the car and plug it in. (My car is set to automatically start charging at 2 am, to take advantage of time-of-use off-peak rates.) That did not seem like a hassle to me—and is much easier than a trip to the gas station at any time of the day.
News about wireless EV charging started to flow as early as December 2011, when Daimler started testing concepts for the new battery version of the B-Class Mercedes and Nissan started talking about it as option on the 2014 LEAF. That’s also when Evatran announced that it would sell wireless kits for the LEAF and Chevy Volt, and work toward bringing plugless power to the individual homes. In January 2012, the SAE taskforce on wireless charging of plug-in vehicles began developing wireless charging standards. In April, the US Department of Energy said it would award up to $12 million in federal funds to companies that specialize in developing wireless charging systems for electric-drive vehicles.
In May, various technology leaders, including Samsung and Qualcomm, formed an alliance “to promote global standardization of a wireless power transfer technology that offers spatial freedom” and other benefits. Spatial freedom?
I heard it argued that luxury EV owners will not consider the handling of a recharging cord to be “dignified,” and therefore luxury electric cars will need to go wireless. Haven't those same luxury vehicle owners been pumping their own foul-smelling spillable gas for years? An EV cord is clean, and compared to a wireless system, you can see with your own eyes when the plug engages. For the next couple of years at least, wireless EV charging is likely to be less reliable and more costly.
I've been wrong many times before about the value of a technology innovation. Is wireless EV charging another example? Help me out, folks. What am I missing?
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