Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging Poised to Change Industry Landscape Can traditional charging solutions survive?

At present, wireless electric vehicle charging or wireless power transfer has a low level of impact but will witness a high probability of success in the future.

Autonomous driving systems have been a long dream of humans. Power electronics and wireless power transfer has the capability to bridge the gap by eliminating human involvement in charging the vehicles.

In 2016 and 2017, the complete wireless electric vehicle charging solutions including power control units, vehicle charging pads, and base charging pads for electric vehicles were offered by the aftermarket companies, such as Plugless Power (Evatran). The target audience for the aftermarket companies was the residential users with existing plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles. Thus, the total market in 2016 and 2017 was valued at $8m and $9.20m respectively. Wireless solutions for plug-in hybrid vehicles accounted for $ 3.20m and $ 3.69m in 2016 and 2017 respectively, whereas battery operated electric vehicles accounted for $ 4.8mand $ 5.5m respectively. The main reason behind such low adoption is that OEMs in the automotive industry have not launched a vehicle with default wireless electric vehicle charging pad.

The initial wireless charging systems or wireless power transfer system or wireless charging pads will be provided by the OEMs at the end of 2019 and the solutions will be retrofitted. The initial cost of wireless charging solutions offered by the OEMs will be exorbitant, and most end users will compare the high price and slow charging of wireless charging systems with cheaper wired and fast charging solutions. Thus, the high initial cost, slow charging, and inadequate public infrastructure will act as the biggest obstacles to the adoption of the technology.

At present, wireless electric vehicle charging or wireless power transfer has a low level of impact but will witness a high probability of success in the future. Dynamic charging will witness a high impact in the long term because of high interest from end users and high probability of success because of increased investments in architecture and infrastructure, even though no bright scope for entry exists almost until 2022. Dynamic charging is characterized by high costs, making the market available for limited participants to explore. Beating the competition in this domain calls for participants with a cooperative mindset. Similar products elucidate the need for collaborative efforts to bring in any type of innovation and address market challenges. This approach would help leverage each participant’s strengths and help each company to play safe to transform a venture into success.

High potential benefits of dynamic charging and the automotive industry’s increased interest in achieving lightweight in electric vehicles by reducing the battery size are key driving factors for the adoption of wireless electric vehicle charging. Wireless electric vehicle charging solutions will witness a high level of impact starting from 2022.   

According to Automo analysis, the market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 109.85% through 2028. The factors contributing to the growth of the WEVC market are governmental mandates and incentives for the adoption of electric vehicles. In addition, the concept of charging while moving and autonomy will further drive the wireless electric vehicle charging market.

For wireless charging market, we have worked three different views i.e. our view, pessimistic view and optimistic view

Unenthusiastic View

On the more disappointing flip side, launch of electric vehicles by OEMs such as BMW, Daimler, and Audi will be delayed by one quarter i.e. BMW 530e iPerformance will be launched in the 2nd quarter of 2020, while Audi and Mercedes will launch their Q6 e-tron and s550e in the 4th quarter of 2020. This will reduce the sales of electric vehicles and will further impact the unit sales of wireless electric vehicle charging system. This further means that the OEMs’ actual market for wireless electric vehicle charging systems will begin in early 2019.

OEMs are not offering wireless charging system as a default solution with the vehicle rather it will be an extra feature that the customer has to pay for. Basically the solution will be retrofitted based on the demand. But the actual unit sales of the complete wireless electric vehicle charging system depends on the launch date. OEMs’ first focus is to lunch their respective electric vehicles in various categories and achieve their total unit sales target. The second priority is to launch their respective wireless charging systems. This approach helps us to understand that the launch of the wireless electric vehicle charging systems can be further delayed by a quarter. So, in this case, BMW, Audi and Daimler’s solutions will be launched in the 4th quarter of 2020 further depleting the unit sales of the wireless charging systems.

A wireless charging solution need to be mechanically retrofitted in the system. Mechanical integration will be achieved with the help of a basic bolt system, but human error can cause efficiency loss if the system is not placed as per the directions. This will further cause difficulties of parking correctly over the charging pad. In addition, increasing number of failures will frustrate the driver. These factors will further lead to a drop in the unit sales of wireless electric vehicle charging systems. The driver or the user takes approximately 1 to 2 minutes for cable charging and approximately 5 to 10 minutes for inductive, that is, wireless charging.

At present, wireless charging takes more time to charge the electric vehicles compared to the wired charging. So it is unlikely that any user would like to move from wired to wireless charging, especially in the early stages.

Dynamic Charging: Dynamic charging is the solution by which most of the above challenges can be addressed. But the commercialization of dynamic charging requires a lot of investment, and governmental incentives and mandates. Furthermore, the technology also requires to be compatible with the various wireless electric vehicle charging pads. This is highly unlikely to be achieved before 2026 because various companies such as Honda, Qualcomm, WiTricity, and others are still developing their own solutions.

Autonomous Vehicles: Autonomous vehicles will have a huge impact on wireless electric vehicle charging, especially in the rental car business. But when will the autonomous vehicles be commercialized is the real question. The answer to this is: ‘not very soon’, because most of the companies are just focusing on LIDAR, RADAR, and Image sensor to enhance the vision and detect the objects. There are a lot of factors associated with autonomous vehicles, such as steering. So, autonomous vehicles are not expected to be commercialized before 2024. This will further limit the growth of the wireless electric vehicle charging market.

Enthusiastic View

Looking on the bright side of things, the WEVC market offers a few opportunities which will enter the market in the early phase. Considering OEMs offering wireless charging as a default system with the vehicle by early 2019, wireless charging add-ons such as base charging pads, EV charge cords, attachment plugs, and vehicle connectors for Level 1 & 2 charging will be offered free with the vehicle. This will further boost the wireless electric vehicle charging market from 2019 onwards because of the supportive factors such as government incentives and the technology’s capability to lower the carbon footprint. In addition, the wireless electric vehicle charging technologies will have early multiple attackers such as OEMs and aftermarket convinced by the current and future prospects the vehicle charging has to offer. Hence, participants that target multiple market segments and try their own approaches for business success have a greater scope. The power supply output of up to 50 kW will be standardized by 2019. These technologies will likely support a greater level of product heterogeneity, leading to stiff price competition, which will further help to drop down the prices of the wireless charging units for electric vehicles. By 2019, most of the vehicles equipped with wireless charging pads will be compatible with the base charging pads deployed in the commercial spaces.

Furthermore, the ubiquitous wireless charging system for autonomous vehicles can be achieved with the help of dynamic charging i.e. charging the vehicle on go. Autonomous vehicles heavily rely on wireless charging; therefore, integrating wireless charging capabilities in autonomous vehicle platforms will have a high impact and offer the probability of success by 2023.

Autonomous vehicles combine intelligent and connected systems. The concept of refueling or recharging autonomous vehicles is of great interest to the automotive industry, particularly with regard to the wireless charging platforms. The reliability of wireless charging in over exhausted vehicle is of critical importance. In addition, the wireless charging systems can be employed as stationery and dynamic charging for supporting end users in short, long, or frequent drives. Autonomous vehicle technology is already signaling a transformation across industries and is expected to bring about significant changes in the future. Autonomous electric vehicle helps rental car businesses utilize their assets more efficiently and innovatively and increase end-user ROI via less stoppage and waiting time, resulting in additional customer and revenue streams. Furthermore, the system architecture would be more flexible and standardized with a base charging pad that can maneuver on any structure and get charged.

A few mandates by the governments will play a crucial role in furthering the market growth. For instance, a 40–50% increase in parking spots with pre-installed wireless charging capabilities instead of wired charging infrastructure will boost the unit sales of wireless charging electric vehicles.

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