Qualcomm Unveils Wireless, Fast-charging Plates for EVs

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【Summary】Qualcomm's Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology utilizes wireless inductive charging protocols to transfer power via a small air gap between a charging plate and a car battery located under the vehicle.

Michael Cheng    May 30, 2017 7:10 AM PT
Qualcomm Unveils Wireless, Fast-charging Plates for EVs

EV charging, which relies on standard plug-in technology, is in dire need of an upgrade. At the moment, EV owners are charging their cars more or less the same way they charge their smartphones. In order to make EVs more accommodating to tech-savvy consumers, many automakers are looking to wireless technology.

Qualcomm is currently pioneering the development of this trend. The company recently completed a successful demonstration of its Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) project. WEVC utilizes wireless inductive charging protocols to transfer power via a small air gap between a charging plate and a car battery located under the vehicle. Like wireless charging pads or docks for smartphones, the EV only needs to be within close proximity to the plate to initiate charging.

Maximum Charging Efficiency

Qualcomm showcased its WEVC plates on a test track in France. A long line of charging plates was laid out over a closed circuit to recreate a long roadway normally found in public roads. A Renault Kangoo EV then proceeded to move over the track at highway speeds of 62 mph. While the car was moving, the plates sent up to 20 kilowatts of power to the battery underneath the vessel.

By comparison, EV owners can get around 3.3 kilowatts to 6.6 kilowatts of power at home, which is why it takes so long to charge the modern cars. Interestingly, a company representative clarified that the WEVC system is capable of catering to two cars at the same time. Moreover, the plates can handle charging in both directions.

Costs and Challenges

A major hurdle that Qualcomm must overcome to improve adoption is cost. The 100-meter test track comes with a mind-blowing $10.1 million price tag. Most of the funding for the project came from the European Commission. The company may consider offering small plates instead of long strips to make the technology more enticing from a cost perspective.

With fast-charging features, around five plates on a parking lot should be sufficient for serving a small cluster of EVs per neighborhood (since most EV owners also charge their cars at home, the plates are secondary charging options for last-minute ‘refueling'). For electric buses, a WEVC plate at bus stops along common routes would be ideal for automated charging – though a plug-in option should still be available in case of emergency.

The business failed to clarify how EV owners would be billed for the service.

Qualcomm isn't the only business developing wireless charging systems for EVs. New York-based Hevo Power has been active in the niche, according to FCC document filings. Capable of delivering 1.5 kilowatts, the startup's system is nowhere near as powerful as Qualcomm's WEVC plates.

"I am immensely proud of what we have achieved. The combination of a global team of expert engineers and Qualcomm Halo technology … has enabled us to really push the boundaries of the possible and outline our vision for future urban mobility," said Steve Pazol, vice president and general manager of wireless charging at Qualcomm Incorporated.

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