In-road wireless EV charging systems are being pitched as a cost-reducing, efficiency-improving upgrade for electric fleet vehicles. Screenshot courtesy of InductEV

Wireless EV Charging Dam About To [Finally] Bust Wide Open

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Wireless EV charging has been the subject of much speculation ever since the first electric vehicles hit the road, especially due to its potential for kicking EV sales into high gear. Imagine recharging your EV battery while cruising down the highway. Now try doing that with a gas mobile. Case closed. The technology has been a long time coming, but the US firm InductEV appears to have cracked the code.

The Long Road To Wireless EV Charging

Wireless EV charging systems first crossed the CleanTechnica radar about 12 years ago, and 12 years later the question is: Where are all the wireless EV chargers?

That’s a good question. It partly depends on what kind of charging system you’re waiting for. There are two basic approaches to wireless EV charging. One approach involves recharging an EV while parked. Compared to plug-in EV charging stations, a seamless park-and-charge system can provide drivers with a bit of extra convenience and time savings, compared to getting out of the vehicle and plugging one thing into another.

That may not seem like much of an advantage, but in today’s world of gig economics and vehicle-as-workstation, convenience is an important selling point. The convenience factor also takes on additional salience for some drivers, for example, those with disabilities.

Wireless charging can also eliminate charging station curbside clutter, which can be an important logistical or aesthetic consideration depending on the site.

In addition, the personal safety factor can make a difference. Not having to get out of your car at a remote charging station in the middle of the night is a pretty good selling point.

The other kind of wireless EV charging involves road-embedded charging equipment that enables vehicles to recharge on-the-go. CleanTechnica has taken note of several recent in-road EV charging systems in the works, including a mile-long stretch of electrified roadway in Detroit, a demonstration project under way in Pennsylvania, and an on-the-go charging system for buses in Germany.

The Commercial Fleet Case For Wireless EV Charging

Even with the technology in hand, it may be a while before individual drivers can count on accessing wireless EV charging for their next road trip. In the meantime, a business case for commercial fleets is beginning to take shape.

The latest word on that comes from the Pennsylvania startup InductEV, which has just announced three new strategic partnerships with the US firms Miller EV Solutions, Roush, and WB Engineers + Consultants, with a focus on en-route EV charging for commercial fleets.

InductEV cites “growing demand from commercial fleet owners and operators, as well as intermodal facilities and ports” in support of its new partnerships.

To make its case, InductEV notes that en-route wireless EV charging enables vehicles to travel farther with smaller batteries. To the extent that a smaller battery pack translates into savings on vehicle costs — and it does — wireless charging can save money.

The company also points out that en-route charging can enable fleets to stay on the move during the day and take advantage of peak production times for solar energy, in contrast to a stationary charging model that requires overnight charging at a depot.

Overall, charging on the go provides fleet managers with more opportunities to keep their fleets on the job, with the money-saving potential to get the same work done with fewer vehicles.

Keep an eye on the Port of Los Angeles, which appears primed for wireless en route charging. The sprawling facility has been exploring a wide range of decarbonization technologies over the years and it has already begun eyeballing a wireless charging-while-parked system.

One hint in that direction dropped on January 30, when InductEV announced that it hired a new Director of Port & Intermodal Strategies, who comes to the firm with a long stretch of experience at the Port of Los Angeles.

Don’t just take our word for it. On January 9, InductEV also dropped another hint, stating that it is “poised to announce the largest commitment by a U.S. port facility to its wireless charging technology.”

What Has InductEV Been Up To All This Time?

That US port commitment hasn’t been announced as of this writing, but InductEV has been busy elsewhere. On February 20, for example, it announced that the Sound Transit bus operator in Seattle will purchase 48 new wireless-charging electric buses from the bus maker Alexander Dennis, including a first-of-its-kind procurement of 33 double-deckers.

“Seattle will be the first location in North America to deploy double-decker electric buses with inductive wireless charging,” InductEV notes.

“This roll-out will make Sound Transit the 7th transit agency in Washington State to deploy InductEV’s,” they add.

InductEV also notes that its wireless technology is up and running in other locations including Indianapolis in Indiana, Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, and Gothenburg in Sweden.

If you’re wondering why InductEV hasn’t crossed the CleanTechnica radar before, that’s a good question. We did take note of the firm as far back as 2013, but that was under its former name of Momentum Dynamics.

Fast forwarding to 2023, the company’s ambitions have swelled along with the name change. Last August, Philadelphia public radio station WHYY reported that InductEV is leveraging its new R&D facility outside of Philadelphia to make some big moves into the microgrid field.

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Next Steps For Wireless EV Charging

Stepping back to look at the big picture, the potential for cost savings has caught the eye of state and federal legislators including Democratic Representative Haley Stevens of Michigan.

Last year, Rep. Stevens introduced the “Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging Grant Program Act of 2023,” which would empower the US Department of Transportation to set up a grant incentive program to help accelerate the emerging wireless charging industry.

Wireless charging technologies could be invaluable for electric transit buses, trucking, fleet vehicles, and autonomous electric vehicles, allowing for convenient and hands-free charging, while also lowering costs, as effective wireless charging would reduce the need for larger and heavier batteries,” Stevens noted in a press statement.

Aside from on-the-go charging, activity has also been picking up in the field of stationary wireless EV charging.

One interesting example to float across the CleanTechnica field of vision is a mobile wireless EV charging device in the form of a robot, which ferries a wireless charger around to wireless-equipped cars in parking garages and other facilities.

If you’ve spotted some other examples, drop us a note in the comment thread.

Follow me @tinamcasey on Bluesky, Threads, Post, and LinkedIn.

Image: In addition to roads, InductEV is targeting seaports and other logistics operations for wireless EV charging systems aimed at commercial fleets (screenshot courtesy of InductEV).

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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