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Delphi showcases wireless charging for EVs at Frankfurt show

Delphi Automotive has equipped several test vehicles with its Wireless Charging System, a wireless energy transfer system featuring technology developed by WiTricity Corporation. (Earlier post.) Delphi is displaying the technology at this year’s IAA International Motor Show.

Engineers have installed the Delphi Wireless Charging System on multiple test vehicles, and have confirmed that system performance meets automotive market requirements, according to Randy Sumner, director, global hybrid vehicle development, Delphi Packard Electrical/Electronic Architecture.

WiTricity is commercializing an approach to “mid-range” wireless charging—distances from a centimeter to several meters. (Earlier post.) Developed by a team led by MIT Professor Marin Soljačić, the company’s technology is based on sharply resonant strong coupling, and is able to transfer power efficiently even when the distances between the power source and capture device are several times the size of the devices themselves. WiTricity’s technology is a non-radiative mode of energy transfer, relying instead on the magnetic near field.

Other wireless charging systems under development make use of conventional inductive charging. These systems work over a limited distance range, require precise accurate parking alignment and can be very large and heavy, making them impractical for widespread use on electric vehicles, Delphi says.

The Delphi Wireless Charging System offers more practical and flexible installation than traditional inductive systems because it uses highly resonant magnetic coupling, a modern technology that safely and efficiently transfers power over significantly larger distances and can adapt to natural misalignment often associated with vehicle positioning during parking.

The Delphi Wireless Charging System offers more practical and flexible installation than traditional inductive systems because it uses highly resonant magnetic coupling, a modern technology that safely and efficiently transfers power over significantly larger distances and can adapt to natural misalignment often associated with vehicle positioning during parking.

—Randy Sumner

As a result, Delphi charging sources can be buried in pavement, are unaffected by environmental factors such as snow, ice or rain, can accommodate a wide range of vehicle shapes and sizes and accommodate differing ground clearances. The Delphi system is also more forgiving to vehicle parking positions on top of the charger without requiring any moving parts to accommodate. The system transfers energy using an oscillating magnetic field, which is intrinsically safe for humans and animals.

According to Sumner, the system will automatically transfer power to the electric vehicle’s battery pack at a rate of 3.3 kW—the same rate as most residential plug-in chargers—and is able to do so with the smallest and lightest modules possible. These components are important to minimizing overall vehicle weight and cost while maximizing the driving range of EVs.

We are excited by our testing and validation of the system and believe we have a valuable and unique wireless charging solution that offers the most potential for widespread use in the automotive market. With the support of automotive manufacturers, this technology can be integrated into the next generation of electric vehicles.

—Randy Sumner

Wireless charging technology will need to co-exist with plug-in charging solutions, Sumner added, so that electric vehicle drivers have the ability to charge their vehicle when they are away from their wireless charging source.

Delphi also makes a Portable Electric Vehicle Charger that fits conveniently in the trunk of an electric vehicle. The user-friendly, UL-listed charging system plugs into any standard 120-volt outlet to enable safe electric vehicle battery charging at home or away. The charging unit can also be integrated into stationary charging applications.



I think they have virtually equipped cars with these virtual units and gotten some good virtual results.. where are the pics, specs, prices?.. sheez someone in Frankfurt must have a phone they can snap a picture with.


Once standardized, made thinner/lighter and mass produced (in Asia?) at much lower cost, every home garage will have fixed wireless chargers. Soon thereafter, shopping center/train station and street parking spots (etc) will be so equipped. Parking meters will be upgraded to meter and charge for the energy used. A new (worldwide) business opportunity?

Interesting future ahead for electrified vehicles and associated support infrastructure.

Bob Wallace

From the linked article...

"The power transfer efficiency of a WiTricity solution depends on the relative sizes of the power source and capture devices, and on the distance between the devices. Maximum efficiency is achieved when the devices are relatively close to one another, and can exceed 95%."

Other wireless charging systems report being about 90% efficient with a standard car to road spacing. What we're not getting from the Delphi is a distance measurement.

It seems like it would be possible to move the receiver downward while the vehicle was parked in order to minimize the distance and lose as little power as possible.


Yes should not be difficult to move the receiver downward or the transmitter upward to reduce the space to practically zero when parked. That could move the efficiency closer to 100%.


The thing most people don't recognize is that the feature of resonant coupling which allows power transmission at a distance of feet also allows power theft at the same distances.

Wires and plugs have the virtue of being less lossy, reliable, and far cheaper.

Dave R

@Engineer-Poet - Theft is a concern with wires and plugs as well - copper theft is rampant in many areas.

Perhaps wires made of aluminum instead of copper would be a sufficient deterrent - but can they be made flexible enough and durable enough?


Underground (protected) power cables could be an effective deterrent.


This is like a product satisfaction guarantee -- it just overcomes a barrier to those hesitant to buy, but who will never take advantage of it. If people THINK they can find power IF they need it, they may buy an electric vehicle. In reality, few will need or use it.


Could also be an interesting way to sell you some power.. when you stop at a light for a minute or two the city will sell you a few wh of energy... maybe that small battery pack will take you farther than you thought.


The wires could be made out of steel or iron (low carbon for softness, maybe). Field-telephone wire has always been, IIUC. No profit in stealing them for the metal.

Herm, think about wiring whole arterial roads. Even if each car can only receive 1-2 kW, that's more than enough to run the lights, radio and climate control while creeping in traffic... without emissions! The power wiring defines the lanes, so the driver doesn't even have to steer. Computer throttle and braking completes the traffic-jam solution. Whole platoons of cars could accelerate simultaneously to get through lights with maximum speed, locked to lane position, drivers doing something else.

Imagine double or triple the traffic capacity on the same roads, burning zero liquid fuel.


You don't have to be an EV fanboy to envision a future in which every parking spot has an embedded wireless charging pad, making it just as ubiquitous as street lights.


Oh, and about the power-while-you drive idea.

Since I don't think electric power will become free, public infrastructure, there needs to be some means of measuring the amount of power delivered to each individual vehicle so people can be billed for their energy use.

That means that each embedded charging pad needs to keep track of how much power it is transferring to which vehicle zipping by at 100 kph. I'm not very confident that that is feasible. But the technology may be developed in the future. For the time being, it is still in the realm of wishful thinking.


Charge vehicles by the mile/kilometer. A vehicle using electric power is generating very little noise and pollution, so this is arguably a public good which ought to be encouraged by billing something close to cost.

Bob Wallace

We now have a lab demonstration using carbon nanotubes as electrical wires, running a light bulb for hours on standard household current. The future of copper thefts might be limited.

Billing can be done via installed EV equipment. An EV could wifi the amount of electricity it has gathered from an embedded charger and billing information.

Yes, a small number of people will attempt hacks to game the system for free power. That might be a theft problem to engineer around.


E-P & BW...your ideas may materialize sooner than many think. Combining: communication-guidance and e-charging functions are being investigated and are probably possible by 2020 or so. Appropriate service charges or user's fees are not the main challenge.


What's with the copper theft worry?

And who cares if there is a std connector or wireless.

You think that's holding up EV acceptance?

For instance, have you seen those filling stations that, if you install an automatic gas cap, shoot a stream of gas into your tank when you stop within 18" of the pump?

I haven't either.


Harvey, the wireless issue is the same paranoia which led to the inductive "paddle" charger used on the EV1. It made chargers expensive and rare; this was probably deliberate on the part of GM.

Wireless is only needed in the case of vandalism (and armored cables won't do) and power transfer in motion.

Bob Wallace

Toppa - you'd need to go to Holland to see a robotic gas pump....

Wireless charging is going to be a convenience issue. Just drive into place. Likely to be a hit with home charging, no need to do anything but park in the right spot.

If wireless can be implemented for not much more money than plug-in I would expect it to become the standard. The system that uses a glue-down "turtle" sending unit looks like it could be a winner. Low installation costs and no moving parts.


I agree with BW. Wireless (smart, fixed and/or on-the-move) will be mass produced and millions will be installed as soon as 20202025 or shortly thereafter. Early standards are essential to fully benefit from public units. After the tablets and electrified vehicles, they may become the best sellers of the decade, specially in industrial countries, starting in Japan-Korea-USA-Canada-Australia and EU countries where handling a power cable will quickly become passé.

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