HELLA KGaA Hueck & Co. is working with Paul Vahle GmbH to develop wireless charging systems that could spark renewed consumer interest in electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. Commonly used to recharge small consumer products such as smartphones and electric toothbrushes, inductive or wireless charging for cars will make it easier for drivers to charge car batteries and extend a vehicle’s driving range. Rather than using plug-in charging stations, car owners in the future will simply need to park over an inductive charging unit to trigger the process, according to Dr. Marc Rosenmayr, CEO for HELLA Electronics in North and South America.
He added 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. For electric car buyers, a contact-free method of transferring energy to the vehicle certainly will be more convenient and less time consuming. Cables no longer will be necessary. Inclement weather and the risk of vandalism also can be avoided if outside charging stations are involved.
“Wireless, inductive charging is a far more convenient way to recharge a vehicle’s battery system,” Rosenmayr points out. “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 notes that a number of technological and infrastructure challenges still must be overcome before wireless charging for cars and light trucks can be successfully introduced. Energy transfer over high-frequency fields that are at the heart of inductive systems, for example, cause heat to build up in metal objects which could lead to safety issues. The impact that wireless charging might have on other vehicle electronic systems such as navigation, infotainment, driver-assistance and keyless entry systems also will need to be studied.
The cooperation between Vahle and HELLA combines the expertise and experience of both companies in the field inductive charging. Based in Kamen, Germany, Vahle has 15 years of experience in contact-free energy transfer in industrial environments, while HELLA is a recognized leader in the development of electronics, software, processes and production in the auto industry.