New wireless charging concept by KIA/Hyundai makes us ask - why?
Hyundai and KIA launched a wireless charging concept that envisions self-parking cars that find a parking space with a wireless charger on their own, then charge and eventually move to an available regular marking space waiting to be summoned by their owner. They call it an “Automated Valet Parking System (AVPS).”
It is just a concept now but Hyundai/KIA says they are “considering on commercializing the technology upon the launch of level 4 autonomous vehicle around year 2025.”
According to the press release from the Hyundai Group the vehicle would be commanded with a mobile app and upon receiving the command would automatically locate a vacant wireless charging station where it would park and charge. "When the vehicle is fully charged, it will relocate to another vacant parking space using the Automated Valet Parking System (AVPS), allowing other vehicles to charge at the spot. When the driver calls for the vehicle, it will then autonomously return to the location of the driver."
Hyundai Group has provided illustrations that show how the concept would work:
While it certainly makes more sense with regards to autonomous vehicles, wireless charging today seems to many to be a solution to a non-existing problem. Count us to the non-believers too, as we also don't think that plugging in your car to charge is such an inconvenience that it needs an immediate solution. And even with autonomous vehicles in mind, wireless charging may not be the only way to go - Tesla's "solid metal snake" being one example from some 3 years ago.
What about efficiency and energy loss?
There aren't any details from Hyundai/KIA on the efficiency of their proposed technology but we know that with wireless charging one significant problem is inefficiency or waste of energy, which could be anywhere between 7% and 10% with currently available technology.
Consider this - if you charge at 7 kW, which is what you would expect from a wallbox at home or a public AC charging station, a 10% inefficiency would mean 700W of that instead of going towards charging is wasted in the form of heat.
When we are talking wireless charging for mobile devices inefficiency isn't that big of an issue, but with the amount of energy that you need to put into your car's battery every day to run your daily commute, this adds up. And in most cases this wouldn't even be green energy - in Europe only less than 30% of electric power comes from renewables. So it may sound convenient, it may even become affordable but wireless charging is wasteful and this is quite a strong argument against it even on its own.