Earlier this month a £50,000 grant from OLEV and Innovate UK was awarded a consortium led by UK Power Networks Services to help all London fleets reach zero emissions by 2050.
The consortium will work with UPS, High Speed 1 and WMG on a new project to assess the feasibility of using wireless charging to support the use of electric vehicles. Most intriguing is that part of the assessment will include the wireless charging of electric taxis while waiting for passengers in the taxi rank outside St Pancras International railway station.
So how will the technology work?
Wireless charging is nothing new. The technology is currently used to charge smartphones, tablets and medical devices. Tech company WiTricity who specialise in wireless charging has been researching the technology since 2007. The technology works by allowing the EV taxi to simply drive their cab over a wireless “pad” set into the taxi rank, road or parking space. The pad then uses magnetic induction technology to charge the car battery without the need for a cable. In a recent deal with Qualcomm, a huge tech company who are also now a minor shareholder in WiTricity, access has been granted to around 1,500 patents and patent applications which has opened doors to potentially a more efficient EV charging experience. There had been concerns that the technology wasn’t efficient enough in terms of its transfer of energy from pad to vehicle. However, efficiency is said to now be between 90-93% according to WiTricity. Back in 2017 WiTricity announced it’s decision to collaborate with Nissan in an attempt to drive adoption of wireless EV charging systems.
With sales of electric taxis and vehicles growing rapidly, Nissan were quick to focus on streamlining the EV charging experience. Nissan tested the WiTricity DRIVE™ wireless charging system which allowed for a charging pad on or under the ground to send energy to the vehicle parked above it, requiring no cables or moving parts.
The DRIVE™ system is capable of charging all types of vehicles ranging from low ground clearance sports cars to high ground clearance SUVs. “Nissan believes in the potential of wireless charging to help advance widespread acceptance of EV motoring,” said Kazuo Yajima, Alliance Global Director of the EV and HEV Engineering Division of Nissan. “We are very pleased to be working with a technology expert such as WiTricity to advance the state of the art for interoperability, efficiency, and user friendliness.” With WiTricity’s vision to charge ALL of world’s EV fleet wirelessly, that’s estimated to be roughly 120 million vehicles by 2030, don’t be surprised to see big investment in the technology in the near future.