Doing away with the cord presents obvious advantages when it comes to the challenge of keeping electric vehicles juiced-up and Qualcomm is among those putting wireless charging platforms through real-world tests to prove the technology. The company has been trialling its Qualcomm Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology in London with a fleet of 50 vehicles including the Delta Motorsport Delta E4 Coupé and Renault's Fluence ZE EV.
WEVC uses inductive charging technology whereby energy is transferred between components in the ground and under the vehicle. “Simply put, WEVC works in the same way as an electric tooth brush, only on a larger scale," says Qualcomm’s marketing director Joe Barrett. "Basically we use a copper coil in a pad on the ground under the car and a second pad on the vehicle. Using the magnetic field, we transfer energy from the ground based pad to the vehicle based pad."
For the London trial, Qualcomm has been working with Chargemaster, a charging station specialist with several installations in both private and public areas across the city. The company says that adding Qualcomm Halo WEVC to those sites was less expensive than installing new sites since up to 70 percent of the charging bay cost is in providing the utilities.
Potentially, systems like WEVC could make EV batteries smaller because they could be charged up regularly, in small, frequent shots. That would lead to cheaper EVs and, consequently, increased adoption.
“A good example is taxis or car share," says Barrett. "Taxis can’t plug in and plug out all the time while moving along a taxi line, so wireless is ideal.”
The London run has not yet provided the company with enough data to make a definite diagnosis of how the technology stack-up in a real-world scenario, but Barrett believes cars coming off the production line of a major automaker in 2015 or 2016 could be enabled for wireless charging. Before that, Qualcomm aims to deliver the technology for OEM evaluation.
Besides the models being used in London, there are Qualcomm Halo 3.3 kW implementations in two Citroen C1 cars that were used in the "Plugged in Places" trial in the UK during 2011 and 2012. There was also a 7 kW implementation in the Rolls Royce 102EX Phantom experimental electric vehicle displayed at CES 2013. The company will also test a 20kW system on the Lola-Drayson 200 mph (322 km/h) electric racing car. The company will be partnering with Drayson Racing to enter the FIA Formula E Championship, due to begin in 2014.
The video below illustrates how Qualcomm Halo WEVC works.
Source: Qualcomm Halo