Advances In Inductive Charging Are Making Electric Cars Even More Appealing

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A recent survey on the automotive industry shows by 2025, 90% of auto executives believe that battery electric vehicles will dominate the global market. The same survey also indicates that 93% of the executives will be investing in electric vehicles over the next five years. These results seem to reflect what many people intuitively know: electric cars are inevitable. But some drivers are still unsure about electric vehicles. The cars must be charged for long periods of time, and frequently, and their driving range is limited. Well, technology vendors have anticipated this issue and one way they are addressing it is through inductive charging.

What is inductive charging?

Inductive charging – also known as wireless charging – is when energy is transferred via magnetic forces, thus eliminating the use of cables or any connections between transmitter and receiver. Some smartphones, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Google’s Nexus 7, already allow for wireless charging. This same technology is going to be used to charge electric cars.

The way this technology works is simple: the car parks over an inductive pad, aligning it with the power capture pad that is mounted on the undercarriage of the car. The car then rests there until the driver has charged the vehicle as much as he wishes. Wireless car chargers have been shown to charge cars more efficiently than wired charging methods. Major automotive manufacturers, such as Toyota and Nissan, have already begun designing cars that use wireless charging.

Current state of electric cars in the US

According to Technavio analysts, global electric vehicle sales will grow at a CAGR of 41.68% from 2015 to 2020. ChargePoint, an electric vehicle charging network, published a report stating that over 542,000 electric vehicles have been sold in the US as of December 2016.

The increasing availability of charging infrastructure is one of the factors driving the electric vehicle sales in the US. At present, there are 32,800 public charging facilities and 5,979 private domestic charging facilities in the US, with nearly half of these being concentrated in California as of 2016. Electric vehicle sales are predicted to grow over the next five years because of new initiation by the US government to hold a 26% share of global charging units by 2020.

Inductive charging technology and remote charging stations are still in the pilot stage

While the technology is mostly there for inductive charging, vendors are still piloting projects to see how wireless charging will work in real cities. Ford recently announced its pilot program in which charging will be as simple as pulling into a parking space. Ford designed the system in order to allow drivers to gain small fuel boosts in a short period of time. Drivers are able to find the charging parking spaces via Ford’s app (FordPass).

In a pilot program in Stockholm, buses use inductive technology to top up their charges throughout the day. At the end of each route, the bus will stop for six to seven minutes to wirelessly charge itself. A spokesperson from the charging station company, Vattenhall, indicates that wireless charging will be an essential part of owning and using electric cars.

We can expect most automotive manufacturers to follow suit in the coming years since a challenge they must overcome is the current lack of infrastructure available to support drivers of electric cars. Wireless charging is a big step in that direction. SAE International is focusing on determining the interoperability of various wireless charging systems and vehicles, which will lead the industry to develop standardized remote charging stations. The hope is that drivers of electric cars will be able to use any charging station they please, providing drivers with one more reason to use electric cars.

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