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Pike forecasts growth for wireless charging for plug-in vehicles, but tied to overall growth of plug-in market

In a new research brief, Pike Research forecasts that wireless charging equipment for light duty plug-in vehicle sales will grow by a CAGR of 91% from 2013 to 2020, as wireless systems move from a retrofit technology to an integrated part of new EVs, reaching annual sales of 283,000 units in 2020.

Although wireless charging for plug-in initially appeared to be mainly a promising technology with no viable market, nearly all of the major EV manufacturers have now announced partnerships to develop wireless charging systems. There are signs that such systems, installed at the factory or added at the dealership, could become a market differentiator for EV models, Pike suggests.

Many trials with OEM vehicles have started up in 2012, and at least one vendor—Evatran, which markets its products under the marque “Plugless Power”—intends to bring a system to market in the first half of 2013.

Separately, Evatran just announced that the City of Sacramento has joined its Apollo Trial Program to test wireless charging technology on its own electric vehicles (EVs). Sacramento will round out the previously announced list of Apollo participants including Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, Duke Energy, Google, DTE Energy, and The Hertz Corporation.

The Apollo participants will test the second generation of Evatran’s technology, improved through the first phase of the pProgram, launched in March 2012 with Google, Hertz, Duke Energy, Clemson University, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).

Announced installations for the second phase of the program include:

  • Four stations installed on Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts in California from the City of Sacramento and LADWP to Google in Silicon Valley;

  • Four stations installed in cold-weather climates such as Detroit with Apollo partners Bosch Automotive Service Solutions and DTE Energy on Chevrolet Volts;

  • Five stations installed on Chevy Volts and Nissan LEAF in the Southeast with City of Raleigh, Duke Energy in Charlotte, and Clemson University in South Carolina;

  • One station installed in the Northeast at The Hertz Corporation Headquarters;

  • One station installed in DC with the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

Evatran plans to have over twenty installations as part of the Apollo Trial Program. The partners will trial the second generation systems for three months and then Evatran will release the product to individual EV owners across the country.

Pike notes that the market for wireless plug-in vehicle charging is necessarily tied to the widespread deployment of PEVs, but also notes that the degree to which PEVs will compete with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles is not certain.

Penetration in 2012 was only a fraction of 1% of vehicles sold. Even if a thriving consumer market for EVs emerges, no guarantee exists that automakers and consumers will embrace wireless EV charging over more conventional, already established plug-in systems. Wireless PEV charging equipment currently costs 10%–25% more than comparable cabled charging equipment. Achieving cost parity is an important goal for vendors, but it may be unattainable in the immediate future due to higher equipment costs and lower production volumes.

Nevertheless, breakthroughs in performance and price could enable wireless EV charging to capture a much greater share of the overall EV charging market by 2017—when the EV market is expected to reach significant volume and rapid growth—than the 7% currently forecast. In the nearer term, by 2014, success will be measured at 5% or 6% of that market. Overall, Pike Research expects sales of PEVs to grow steadily until 2015, followed by accelerating sales from 2015 through 2020 to reach nearly 1.7 million by 2020. Sales of wireless EV charging systems will follow a similar curve: slow growth starting in 2013 (from a base of zero), with sales and revenue accelerating in the second half of the decade.

—“Wireless Charging Systems for Electric Vehicles”


Bob Wallace

I suspect wireless is going to be very important when we start having a significant need for public charging.

We'll need a different configuration than the current "glue down turtle". Something that can sit at street level and not be wiped out by snowplows. Something easily protected/height-adjusted with repaving.

And built in metering and billing. Just park over a charge spot. Your car communicates with the charger and "central control" so that you return with the amount of charge you requested and your account is automatically billed.

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