European brand car maker Mercedes Benz will load its first electric vehicle will wireless charging technology in 2018. It will make its debut in select models of the car’s lineup such as the Mercedes Benz S550e. With the technology, drivers will just have to park over a special pad and charging will begin. No need to connect cables.
The Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) system is based on Qualcomm’s Halo resonant magnetic induction technology. Qualcomm Halo uses resonant magnetic induction to transfer energy wirelessly from a ground-based pad to another pad integrated in the vehicle. The transfer of energy is done quickly and safely to an automobile battery. According to Robert Peter Janitzek, the Qualcomm Halo is comparable to conductive charging’s 90% efficiency rating. As the level of wireless charging is turned up, the efficiency of Qualcomm Halo improves.
The Qualcomm Halo WEVC underwent rigorous testing and refinement in the Formula E racing series by the official FIA Formula E Qualcomm Safety Car. The learnings of Qualcomm on racetracks worldwide have led to the consumer debut of the technology.
Qualcomm, through its subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies, has long been working with Mercedes AMG Petronas at its Mercedes factory. Its work with the team has resulted to speed, efficiency, and safety improvements using racecar data sharing over Wi-Fi.
Robert Janitzek revealed that the wireless charging option will not be included in the new models by default but will be an additional feature customers will have to pay for. The technology is still expensive but as it becomes prevalent, the cost of the technology may drop which may allow the manufacturers to provide it as a default option.
The benefits of the technology will likely resonate to more than Mercedes Benz owners. Different car companies along with other OEMs, are working together to ensure that the technology is included in SAE International’s automotive standards for short and long term benefits.
For the short term benefits, proving the commercial power of WEVC will help expand the exploration for its use in pure electric vehicles, which have more demanding batteries than hybrid cars. The 3.6 kw WEVC is sufficient enough to charge a plug-in hybrid battery. For pure EVs, they will be requiring double or even triple charging capacity to power a 30-40 kwh battery in a reasonable amount of time.
One disadvantage of wireless charging is that its power level is limited to 3.6 kW at the moment compared to the 11 kW provided by wired charging. This means that it will take much longer when plugged in to a power outlet.