As electric vehicles become more and more popular, companies are coming up with inventive ways of charging them more quickly and easily. This could be both with stationary parking spots or areas that do away with plug-in charging stations, or roads outfitted with inductive charging technology that powers vehicles as they drive. Making powering an electric vehicle more convenient could encourage more people to drive EVs, and also allow cities to use the technology to power buses and public transportation and reduce pollution.
Companies already providing wireless EV technology include Plugless Power and Electreon, the Beit Yanai, Israel-based company that is working to expand the wireless EV charging network in the US and other countries. They have recently partnered with the technical professional services firm Jacobs to work on wireless EV charging projects in cities and states throughout the US, with the first project happening on a road in Michigan. According to Asaf Maman, vice president of commercial development at Electreon, they chose to partner with Jacobs due to its experience dealing with the technology sector beneficiaries such as roads, airport and utilities, as well as urban planning in the US.
Jacobs is a leading multidisciplinary engineering company with a new innovative advanced mobility practice and great outreach and experience in many of our technology sector beneficiaries such as roads, airports, seaports, utilities and power, and urban planning throughout the United States.
Here is a brief look at how dynamic wireless charging works:
The first project from the collaboration between Electreon and Jacobs will be a one-mile stretch of public road in Detroit outfitted with wireless EV charging technology. This is the first road of its kind in the US, and is part of both an inductive EV charging pilot program and the Michigan central mobility innovation district in the Motor City’s Corktown neighborhood. The wireless EV charging project is expected to be finished in 2023.
We talked to Electreon’s Asaf Maman about the benefits of wireless EV charging, the goal of their projects in the US, and future demand for wireless EV charging.
SIXT: What are the benefits of wireless EV charging vs. plug-in EV charging?
Maman: Wireless charging allows vehicles to “pick up” power at any time increment, including [during] short-term parking, loading, a traffic light stop, slow-moving queues and while in motion on a road. By allowing continuous charging anytime and everywhere, fleet operators can reduce dependency on night charging and fast charging, reducing the significant grid bottlenecks expected. The under-pavement embedded “cord-free” system preserves aesthetics, valuable real-estate for operational use and assures a safer working environment.
In addition to the economic benefits of minimum “down-time”, the [system hardware is more] compact, thus cheaper to install as well as simpler to maintain as it is exposed to less wear and tear, vandalism and unintentional collision. In addition to the current benefits, wireless EV charging will allow the growing number of autonomous vehicles [to have] easy access to electrified roads, lot, and curbside segments to charge wirelessly with no human intervention.
SIXT: What is the goal of the expansion of wireless EV charging in the US?
Maman: Electreon aspires to create a network of electrified roads and static stations in strategic, highly utilized areas to eliminate range anxiety, reduce the dependency on night charging and fast charging, and to gradually lead to battery reduction and [the price of EVs].
We wish to begin with major fleet operators in the transit and transportation sector undergoing electrification and facing challenges of grid infrastructure, EV battery and charger costs as well as space and safety constraints. Once utilization of our system increases among major fleets, we will be able to offer smaller fleets and individuals the use of wireless charging in public lots, streets and highways. Our upcoming pilot [program] with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the City of Detroit will enable us to test common urban scalable use cases together with leading automotive, construction and engineering champions with the goal of implementing them later in the state and throughout the United States.
SIXT: You have already cemented a project in Detroit. How will you decide where the other areas of expansion will be?
Maman: The pilot program is aimed to examine urban potential use cases among different transportation segments and the ways to scale them up at a later stage. We will work with our partners to refine the use cases, demonstrate the technology and its benefits and share it with decision-makers at key organizations.
Once we experience the technology together with leading segment users, automotive champions, [the] City of Detroit and MDOT, we will decide on the highest priority for expansion within the state and with potential clients nationwide.
SIXT: How many EVs have the technology for wireless EV charging? Is this technology something that many new EVs will have included in the future?
Maman: Currently, Electreon has tested its technology on buses, trucks, vans and private vehicles. In the coming years, we intend to engage with leading OEM (original equipment manufacturers) to integrate the system aftermarket as well as to integrate it into main model designs and allow the customer to order their vehicles as wireless charging-enabled.
SIXT: How do you see demand for wireless EV charging in the US in the next 5-10 years?
Maman: EV wireless charging demand will gradually increase during the next 5 years. [The demand will happen] mainly among transit and transportation fleet managers as early adopters, for which wireless charging is an essential tool to overcome electrification challenges of the grid, infrastructure, space, operational up-time and of course price.
Once utilization is up, the infrastructure deployed and more OEM offer Wireless EV models, we expect demand to take an exponential turn and wireless charging to be the prevalent technology by the end of this decade and perhaps the exclusive solution for the decade to come.