Hella, an automotive supplier in Plymouth, is working with Germany-based Paul Vahle GmbH & Co., a supplier of mobile power and data transmission, to develop wireless charging systems for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.
Wireless charging, commonly used to recharge small products such as smartphones and electric toothbrushes, would make it easier for drivers to charge car batteries, says Marc Rosenmayr, CEO for Hella Electronics in North and South America. In this case, drivers could charge their cars simply by parking over a designated spot.
“Wireless, inductive charging is a far more convenient way to recharge a vehicle’s battery system,” Rosenmayr says. “The driver only needs to stop or drive over a charging unit or network to activate the process. As wireless charging has become more available and easy to use, it also might allow automakers to reduce battery size and weight on electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
Rosenmayr adds that if inductive charging coils were embedded in streets, electric vehicles also could be recharged when stopped at traffic lights or even while being driven.
However, Rosenmayr says, a number of technological and infrastructure challenges must be overcome before wireless charging electric vehicles can be successfully introduced. For example, the impact that wireless charging might have on other vehicle electronic systems —navigation, infotainment, driver-assistance, and keyless entry systems — will need to be studied. Also, energy transfer over high-frequency fields causes heat to build up in metal objects, which could lead to safety issues, he says.