Wireless electric-car charging tech to be tested in London

Qualcomm says plug-in charging is too “cumbersome,” its new technology could lead to electric cars being charged whilst driving.

The trials will take place before the end of the year, with an adapted version of Formula 1 car designer Delta Motorsport’s E4 coupe electric car being the main test vehicle. Further tests will be carried out in 2013 using Renault electric cars.

Inductive charging – which involves using an electromagnetic field to transfer energy – is less efficient than traditional direct charging, but Qualcomm says the difference in its new tech is only “marginal.”

“The adoption of WECV [wireless electric vehicle charging] technology will lead to a shift in charging behaviour,” said Qualcomm. “Batteries could be smaller with the resulting reduction in electric vehicle cost and weight.”

The firm added that its technology – dubbed Qualcomm Halo – could be used to keep vehicles’ battery charges at between 40-80%, thereby maximising the life expectancy of the batteries. For the moment, it will only work when a vehicle is stationary.

The trial will see charging pads placed at Qualcomm’s west London office, close to the Silicon Roundabout tech hub, and at the premises of the minicab company Addison Lee.

Addison Lee also intends to fit the equipment to some of its Citroen-built vehicles.

Qualcomm is not alone in developing a plug-free charging solution.

BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and others are already involved in a rival induction charging trial in Germany.