In the world of electric vehicle (EV) driving, Tesla has earned an enviable reputation. Their exclusive dedication to EVs, self-manufacturing of almost all parts, and innovative development of long-range batteries have done much to make them the preferred choice for many EV drivers. The luxurious styling of their vehicles and strong use of software has also helped in their appeal.
As the industry leader when it comes to EVs, it is no surprise that they should also be the trendsetters. And they seem set to make wireless charging very much a part of the EV industry. Thus far, EV owners have come to rely on cabled connections to chargers to power up their car batteries. Tesla even has its own Supercharger Network that is availed to its customers. It can take just 30 minutes to get a full charge, with some models enjoying free access.
Wireless charging is something many people have heard about, especially if they happen to have bought an iPhone in the last couple of years. This technology works by creating an electromagnetic field between two copper coils. Power travels through the air from the transmitter to receiver within this field via induction. Unfortunately, there is a limit in the distance to be adhered to between the device and its charging pad.
All this is based on the discoveries of Nikola Tesla himself in the transfer of electricity over the air. It, therefore, seems apt that the car brand named in his honour should apply his work to guiding the future of EV driving. Upgrading from cabled to wireless EV charging is just the first step in towards an even more self-sufficient and autonomous future.
Is Wireless EV Charging Possible?
Yes. Inductive charging allows for electric power to be converted to magnetic power that is transmitted from the magnetic coil to the receiver coil. Once received, the magnetic energy is converted back into electric power that is saved to the car battery. The first magnetic coil is in the charger that is connected to a power supply, while the second coil that acts as a receiver is fitted to a plate on the underside of the car.
The car is simply parked over the charging pad and charging automatically begins through the air gap between it and the plate in the car. No physical connection has to be made between the charging pad and the EV. It is a simpler process that removes the worry of having to use specific cables that correctly fit into ports. The driver can afterwards simply drive off without worrying a connected cable will cause a mishap. The main downside to this technology is that it is not very efficient. The conversion rate is somewhat lower meaning that it takes longer to achieve a full charge when compared with plugging in an EV cable.
How Teslas Charge Wirelessly
Tesla does not currently offer wireless EV charging capability. This is mostly available through aftermarket upgrades by companies such as Plugless and WiTricity. Tesla only offers wireless phone charging options for some of its new models. The aftermarket upgrades to vehicles such as the Model S fit the car with a vehicle adapter plate underneath and at the front of the vehicle. When coming to a wireless EV charging station, the vehicle should be parked over the parking pad.
This pad contains the coils that convert electric power to magnetic energy. This then safely transmits through the air space between the pad and the adapter. When received the vehicle adapter converts this magnetic energy back into electricity that the vehicle then uses to charge the battery. When the driver returns and starts up the vehicle, it automatically disengages from the parking pad and you can safely drive off.
What About Dynamic Charging Roadways?
Research is being done into how to charge EVs while on the road. Referred to as Dynamic Electric Vehicle Charging (DEVC), this technology would allow vehicles being driven over roads with buried chargers to top up their batteries while on the go. This would hypothetically reduce the need to stop at charging stations and exponentially expand EV range.
Tests are being done by multiple firms in countries such as Sweden and China. The future of wireless charging seems very hopeful with good potential in making it more widely and publicly accessible. Even here in the UK, some trials are ongoing. Amongst them is one in Nottingham that is targeted at electric taxis operating out of the railway station. Using wireless charging technology from WiTricity, these upgraded vehicles will be able to take advantage of charging pads made available to them in the parking area.