At some point it all hopefully joins up – and when it does, each ‘component’ needs to share the Motherboard.
Let me explain…
Infrastructure: Until the telephone got un-connected (went mobile) we were stuck with a fairly basic communication tool. It worked, but you had to be indoors to use it or outside in a specially designed sound-proof booth. The booth needed to be red here in the UK. No one knows why it had to be red – but it was red. Inside and out. There are still a few around but they all smell of pee and fag ends – and are often full of pictures of ladies in rude poses.
Wireless telephony is now both ubiquitous and the catalyst to a tidal wave of benign progress – an App for anytime, anyplace, anywhere and for everything.
If you’re out an about today much of what will help you has been designed, developed, and delivered within the past 10 years – much of it in the last 2 or 3! The enabler? – amongst many clever things primarily the infrastructure.
The mobile came along because a bundle of other things came along at the same time in support – to work in concert. Change always happens that way.
Until the electric vehicle gets un-connected – non cabled that is – we are stuck with a cluttered confused costly collection of street furniture that seems such a tech-landscape let down. All that fab EVR&D seems to fall at the final hurdle…the last few feet left to a mess of dirty cables on the floor.
Porsche Big Cheese Dr Ollie Blume recently said this:-
“A sound charging infrastructure is much more important than tax incentives on vehicles. If we want to achieve the breakthrough for electric cars, it will not be possible without it”
Do we have ‘a sound charging infrastructure’ – all be it a nascent one at this time? I think not.
Is it likely that we will somehow see a shake-down into a collaborative business model from the bundle of players currently jostling for position in EVSE land? We might do.
However, can you really see a future urban landscape with millions of charge posts as the backdrop?
Hogging charge points well over the time needed to top-up is a bug-bear for many that will only get worse I suspect. There is a twin imperative when you have an EV – a parking place and a charging point. Switching between the two?…
The whole EVSE thing seems a bit like telephone land-lines to me – and the jump we therefore need is to safe, high powered, ubiquitous wireless charging.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to personally ask Elon Musk about the EVSE ‘journey’…what would prevail? Cabled/Wireless/Swap? – I often reflect on his answer.
Drop & Swap seems to have faded away some time ago – well it seems to have…
Conventional wisdom says it’s battery progress – but what if that doesn’t happen and all the marvellous energy density leaps simply sit tight in lab-land for years to come?
So, if wireless charging is to be the saviour…
Who has capability in the space?
What is the current state-of-the-art?
When could a wireless charging landscape emerge?
I see it emerging from closed-loop environments. Ports, airports, industrial facilities, taxi ranks, bus routes, delivery routes…
Or to put it another way – with urban operating, defined mileage, back to base operators. You know, the ones that mostly operate the internal combustion engine at its most inefficient – and in proximity to most people…
The quid-pro-quo for the users will be in reduced costs from down-sized battery packs and/or extended range, as well as ditching the whole plug-cable-connecting faff. It will help them work in the inevitably proliferating clean-urban-air zones too – that has a payback.
Some recent news really grabbed my attention about all this when Google confirmed that wireless charging has been within their R&D scope for some time (click here). I have had a ‘watching brief’ on a few clever folk within the industry for the past few years – in particular a couple of relatively small US companies Momentum Dynamics and Hevo Power…and I was therefore unsurprised to see them in the mix.
Ex NASA Andrew Daga & Co have been progressing things nicely, and they offer solutions to much of the fundamental challenges with the technique. There are of course some industry giants busy in the arena too – most notably Qualcomm.
The core challenges that must be delivered by any/all of them?
Safety, Efficiency, Simplicity, Cost.
Standardisation won’t get in the way with it all either!
I’m 100% sure that Google will have wireless charging as a core part of their proposition – both operational and strategic. The player that can present a global infrastructure solution to the conundrums of the EV proposition stands to create a very lucrative recurring revenue model. A new era for a new Alphabet perhaps? – A to B via E…
Entrepreneur Shai Agassi once asked me a question he asked many people at the time (2007) –
If you could have been a car company or an oil company at the start of it all – knowing what came to pass – which one would you choose?
Makes you wonder doesn’t it…and much of what he suggested for swap could be applied to wireless in my humble opinion. If you watch it – do let me know if you agree!
“It is still very early days but we would be keen for trials to happen in London whenever Google are ready to move them into other countries.”
Isabel Dedring – Deputy London Mayor for Transport
Perhaps the apparent overtures that Google have been making to the London Mayors Office (and vice versa I imagine) incorporate a nascent charging proposition? – it would make a lot of sense to me given the current (unintended pun) state of play with the cabled charging offer…
So who’s buddying-up with who, or buying someone out, and building up the world we might all be about to live in?
The following quote comes from a superb article about an emerging ‘Virtuous Cycle’ published on Forbes recently (click here) where Chunka Mui sums it up nicely.
These moves are part of the strategic gamesmanship underway in the colliding automotive and technology ecosystems. Numerous players are jockeying for position at the confluence of driverless cars, electric vehicles and car sharing.
Mr Mui helpfully illustrates the who’s who of it all – so to keep that in context you’re best reading through his piece over at Forbes.
In the meantime, the key bit for me remains the infrastructure proposition –
so perhaps to work out what might happen… I think I’ll go and Google it 😉
What do you think?
Director – Electric Vehicles Outlook Ltd