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Wireless Charging Points The Way Forward For Electric Vehicles - But Needs To Prove Itself Sooner

by Kevin Mak | Nov 07, 2012

On November 6th, Qualcomm briefed the automotive industry on its progress with the HALO inductive charging system for electric vehicles. This blog reports on this briefing, in particular the forthcoming trial of the HALO system in London, and updates on a previous Strategy Analytics post, Qualcomm Inductive Charging – A Possible Solution To Range Anxiety in Electric Vehicles

Demonstrations of the HALO system has shown how the system can bring about wider deployment.

  • The charging pad alignment system is highly tolerant, to within 300 mm between vehicle and base charging pads.
  • As well as parking bays, lane markings could guide EVs onto charging pads embedded near traffic lights and in other urban streets where traffic is likely to stop.  This can assist EV drivers who are part of a charging membership scheme, improving the user experience even further by allaying consumer range anxiety.
  • Sensing data for the alignment system is sent to a smartphone using a Bluetooth connection.  The driver will be able to see the alert on the mobile handset, mounted on the front windshield.
  • With this Bluetooth connection, the alignment system can potentially be used on any EV model, thereby reducing implementation costs.  Future systems are being developed with DSRC communication.
  • The alignment system can also be tailored to send data to the vehicle’s embedded HMI (Human-Machine-Interface) system, thereby widening HALO’s appeal to OEMs.
  • A number of safety systems have been deployed to allay fears about wireless charging.  These include Foreign Object Detection that can prevent charging if there are metallic objects in the way of the charging pads.  Without this safety feature, these metallic objects will heat up during the charging process.
  • Also, EMF (Electro-Magnetic Field) emissions outside the charging pads have been shown to be way below harmful levels. 

One of the partners in the London Trial is Chargemaster.
  • The choice of Chargemaster can be regarded as essential for the trial in gathering user data on preferred charging methods, usage times and locations.  The company, based in Luton, is one of Britain’s leading equipment manufacturers that support electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructures.  It is also one of the country’s leading EV charging operators, through its POLAR network with a current 2,000 charging points located in 40 major towns in the UK being extended to reach a total of 100 towns by 2013.
  • At present, the UK government subsidizes charging cost.  But from March 2013, these subsidies will end and that new business models for EV charging will have be formed, either as membership subscriptions of as a pay-as-you-charge method.  With the know-how and experience from Chargemaster, it may utilize the HALO system as a means of adding convenience.

However, details about the forthcoming London WEVC (Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging) Trial are sketchy.  But from what information that was released, Strategy Analytics believes the scope of the trial is too limited and that progress of the trial has been too slow for Qualcomm to effectively promote its HALO inductive charging system.
  • The trial is still in the planning stage and will not be in place until next year.
  • An estimated maximum of 50 vehicles will participate in the trial.  Strategy Analytics regards the sample size as being too small to yield enough data to analyze from.
  • Chargemaster’s CEO mentioned that there will be 6 Central London locations currently being prepared for the trial.  Again, Strategy Analytics regards this as being too small when there is the potential to bring inductive charging capability to all of POLAR’s conductive charging points, some 205 points located inside the M25 orbital expressway.
  • Renault is the only major OEM participant in the trial.  While the Renault-Nissan Alliance is the most EV-enthusiastic OEM group, there are other large OEMs with plug-in models that need persuading.  Also participating in the trial are Delta E-4 coupes, which are costly sports car models and are likely to fill niche markets only.
  • Addison Lee is the only fleet participant in the trial.  The company will only be using Citroen C1 EVs as minicabs.  EVs are likely to see growth as small, urban delivery vans – this segment is not participating in the trial.
  • Neither are any iconic London black cabs participating, which make up the majority of taxi journeys in the city.
  • Also no car sharing operator is participating in the trial. 
  • It must be noted that one of the earliest implementation of HALO has been on large buses in Genoa and Turin, in Italy.  With the partnership of the Transport for London transit authority, such a system could be trialed on a London bus.

So although inductive charging technology is more likely to be deployed on a wider scale, and thus achieve Qualcomm’s aim of raising economies of scale and mass market uptake of HALO, the limited scope of the London WEVC Trial will hamper efforts at promoting the wireless charging concept.
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