The development of wireless charging systems for electric vehicles (EVs) has slowly picked up momentum over the past decade. This charging solution relies on the principle of resonant inductive coupling to achieve wireless power transfer (WPT) from a ground-based pad to a vehicle-fitted pad. Drivers should simply align their vehicles with the ground pad for charging to begin automatically, eliminating the need to plug in. Wireless charging has the power to greatly increase the convenience and accessibility of plug-in electric vehicle charging for drivers.
IDTechEx finds that the market for wireless EV charging infrastructure will reach over US$6 billion by 2033.
Several automakers are evaluating the technology and working with tier 1 and technology suppliers to integrate this technology. BMW were the early pioneer in rolling out factory-fitted wireless charging hardware before sales declined in volume. More recently, Hyundai, FAW, and IM Motor have announced models that are wireless charging enabled. The market is also seeing investment from auto OEMs like Volvo, Jaguar, and Renault and Tier 1 suppliers like Siemens, Mahle, and Magna.
There are a number of companies jostling to be the dominant player in the wireless EV charging space, including WiTricity, Hevo, Wave, IPT Technology, Momentum Dynamics, and many more. In reality, each competitor’s systems are intended for different applications, and there is enough business potential for everyone in this emerging market.
The (Electric) Road Ahead
Wireless charging allows fleets to adapt their charging events to their existing business workflows with short opportunistic charging sessions throughout the operational day, so vehicles can carry smaller batteries and remain in service for longer. Top-up charging along a route also means a fleet’s energy demand is spread over time and space, reducing electric consumption at the fleet’s hub.
IDTechEx research finds that the private luxury passenger car segment will adopt wireless charging technology due to its added convenience. This will be followed by commercial vehicles such as taxis, vans, and buses which can charge opportunistically and remain in service longer. The emerging autonomous segment will also be very likely to utilize this technology in the future since it requires zero human intervention, but early deployments will rely on conductive, cable-based solutions.
Wireless EV charging will play a key role in developing the overall network of EV charging infrastructure alongside Level 1 and 2 AC charging and Level 3 DC fast charging. It will be a complementary solution to support the growing population of zero-emission light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles. It offers tremendous opportunities for Auto OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, and fleet operators.
However, right now, the price is much higher than cable-based solutions, with players betting on larger volumes to bring down prices significantly in the future. This requires wider market acceptance which raises several key questions – would it be powerful and efficient enough to charge all types of vehicles? What are the additional components needed? What is the state of commercialization? Is it safe to operate?