There are a number of issues that have to be addressed before electric cars can become the mainstream, and most of them concern the battery. There are also a number of different approaches to solving the battery issues of charging and range, and a three-year partnership project has been investigating one of the more advanced options of wireless charging using Kia Soul EVs. The project is being conducted by a collaboration of Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center (HATCHI), wireless charging company Mojo Mobility, and the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
How long an EV can drive on a full charge, how long the battery takes to recharge, and the availability of charging points are all things that need to be addressed before most people can seriously consider running an EV as their main vehicle. Bigger batteries with greater range are expensive, and even the fastest fast charging stations are few and far between and still take far longer to charge a battery than it takes to fill a tank with petrol or diesel.
Wireless charging is one of the most ambitious ways of solving these problems, and it’s definitely making advances in the right direction. If or when it is widely available it would allow drivers to simply park and charge without having to bother with a cable. Kia is the latest automaker to test inductive charging, and has now announced it’s deployed a fleet of Soul EVs capable of recharging wirelessly.
Five vehicles have been equipped with the technology and tested in real-world environments. The system works using electromagnetic fields transmitted between a transmitter coil on the ground and a receiver on the bottom of the car to transfer the energy. This particular system can charge at over 10kW, with 85 percent grid-to-vehicle efficiency.
Kia claims the system is therefore so efficient that it can still charge even if the two coils are misaligned to some degree, so a less-than perfect parking job doesn’t mean the car won’t be able to recharge.
HATCHI President, William Freels says of the tech: “We’re thrilled with the success of the system and its efficiency. We set out to develop wireless charging that has real world applications and is easy to use for the consumer. Now, with this fleet of wireless Soul EVs, we can clearly see a future of unplugged electric vehicles.” – AFP Relaxnews