The great challenge of the electric car is fast and practical charging. Volvo believes the answer is wireless

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Arrive, park and what the car recharges itself. This is what Volvo wants and what it is going to prove during the next three years in Gothenburg (Sweden) with a pilot experience. The goal is to test the effectiveness of wireless charging in real conditions.

To do this, Volvo has partnered with Cabonline, the largest taxi company in the region. Using the Volvo XC40 Recharge, an electric-only model that can only be purchased online, drivers will be able to see if wireless charging technology is as effective as cables.

According to Volvo, with this technology they can achieve recharges of more than 40 kW. It is currently considered that a fast recharge must be carried out at least 50 kW. Of course, it is much faster than the 11 kW that a wall socket for domestic use delivers. With this last power, Volvo estimates a full recharge in seven and a half hours.

Therefore, the recharging of the Volvo XC40 Recharge should be completed in about two hours. To achieve this, they will take advantage of the 360º cameras to place the SUV in the right place on the platform. This space, supplied by Momentum Dynamics, will send power to a compatible vehicle when it detects that it is on top, so there is no need for the driver to turn off the car or get out of it.

A technology that raises some questions

It is undeniable that charge an electric car wirelessly it is a great leap forward. Especially in comfort because, although plugging in a vehicle is simple, the user experience improves considerably if a driver only has to leave his car parked to charge it.

In 2020 we already told you that the standards for wireless recharges continued to evolve and have already reached the 11 kW offered by domestic outlets. This same year we echoed a news story that reached us from Detroit, where the first road with induction charging is being installed.

To achieve these loads, it is necessary to have a floor charging base that is connected to a transmitting coil and this, in turn, to the electrical network. The car, with another coil inside, receives the signal from the first one and between them an electromagnetic field is created through which the electrons circulate in one direction, towards the car batteries.

The possibilities are many but also the doubts. An increase in wireless charging would eliminate possible compatibility problems between chargers that, although they are less every day, still exist. Also having to carry a cable in the trunk of the car to guarantee a possible charge if the post we go to does not have it.

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More doubts are generated by wireless recharges on the move, as we already expressed in its day. In addition to the Detroit highway, the Stellantis Group already has a test circuit that uses the same technology but, in these cases: how to control the cost of each vehicle? How to bill for each recharge?

At Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), Professor Khurram Afridi says he has found the solution: to have small metal plates along a “loading lane”. These boards would be connected to a matching network that could create oscillating electric fields. This would generate an electromagnetic wave received by the vehicle for charging. In this way, it is not necessary to install coils linked to the current in all the plates, which would lower installation costs.

Where it does seem like a good idea to install a wireless recharging network is in spaces delimited for the public transport service. In this case, the electric buses would need less time to recharge when connected to the network or they could receive small pulses of energy at each stop and increase their autonomy.

The same happens with the Volvo project. The installation of wireless charging points at taxi stops allows small electrical power supplies vehicles while waiting for new customers. In this case, the possibilities of using plugs are much more interesting, since the vehicles can move forward during their wait without the need to plug and unplug the cables.

Arrive, park and what the car recharges itself. This is what Volvo wants and what it is going to prove…

Arrive, park and what the car recharges itself. This is what Volvo wants and what it is going to prove…

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