London Wireless Charging Trial


Wireless vehicle charging: you just pull up over a charging 'pad' and electrons are streamed straight into you car's battery. Farfetched? Not anymore, because this week saw the launch of a wireless charging scheme by telecommunications company Qualcomm and, amongst others, Renault. So, no more plugging-in.

Charge pads are suitably inconspicuous, vandal-proof, and crash-proof

That sounds ridiculous

Inductive motors were pioneered by Nikola Telsa a century ago, and more recently inductive charging has seen widespread use with mobile phones and, as you'll surely have seen, on toothbrushes. We now understand the technological parameters well enough to charge over several hundred millimetres, though, so now it's the automobile's turn. The trial is set to last around two years, with cars like Renault's electric Fluence used by fleets and more exotic EVs, such as the Delta E4, commandeered by private users. If, and hopefully when, wireless charging becomes available to the public at large, users will pay either a monthly subscription or operate a pay-as-you-go policy – free charging in London will soon be a thing of the past when legislation changes next year.

The pads are made with a high degree of misalignment tolerance, although parking on the other side of the street won't work 

How long does charging take?

The efficiency of the wireless charging system is broadly the same as conventional plug-in charging at around 90%. As a result, charge times will be the same as they are now – the pad can even generate different levels of power at 3kWh, 7kWh and 20kWh. Obviously, time will also be saved not having to wrestle with dirty cables and floor-height sockets. A charge pad in your garage at home would a result in a the same daily routine as an ICE-powered car; without ever having to visit the forecourt. The (ever-so sickly sweet) video below outlines how the system works.

Charging whilst driving?

Qualcomm have declared that the end-game is for cars to be charged on the move – much like on Roosegarde's Smart Highway concept. The best way to charge electric cars is little and often, so they are constantly being topped up from convenient sources for short periods of time – the office, the supermarket, car parks etc. The next step, however, is to install inductive loops in roads. UK-wide coverage (much like WIFI, for example) would take enormous financial investment and a lot of time, but the result would be zero-emissions cars of infinite range, and if that doesn't placate your range-anxiety then nothing will.

Still doubtful?

That's understandable, but bear in mind that Lord Drayson posted a time of 53 seconds up the hill at Goodwood this year in his B12/69EV race car. It was a new electric record, and the Lola-Drayson that did it was charged wirelessly. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding....

'Electric cars aren't 'Noddy' cars anymore' - Lord Drayson

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