Your Future EV: Hyundai Looks Serious About Wireless Charging

6 months ago by Sebastian Blanco 8

Schematic of EV patent

We keep finding fun little tidbits in the “Your Future EV” series, but sadly nothing today is a quirky as the stinky batteries from last time. This entry is a little more yeoman-like, featuring the practical enhancements like wireless charging for electric vehicles and safer batteries. It’s good to know that even though not all patents make it to production, sometimes you have to file a patent for the boring things.  Let’s take a look at what’s new.

Hyundai’s Wireless Charging Tech Gets Real

Hyundai wireless charger patent

Filed: November 2, 2015; Published: May 4, 2017

Patent says: “To solve problems of inconvenience with wired charging, wireless charging is actively being researched.”

What this might mean: Hyundai actually has multiple wireless charging patents that have been recently published (see 1, 2, 3, for examples), and the straightforward way that it’s saying that this technology is “actively being researched” gives us hope that the company might be first out of the gate with official, OEM-supported wireless EV charging. (Obviously, any OEM serious about EVs is also working on this sort of thing.) In Hyundai’s vision, the charger can sense if there is someone in the car or not, and then adjust the electromagnetic field to “within a safe range.” But of course.

Safer, Self-Puncturing Batteries from Lucid (actually Atieva)

Lucid Motors punctured battery patent

Filed: October 30, 2015; Published: May 4, 2017

Patent says: “Although the prior art teaches a variety of mounting techniques that can either be used to place the battery pack in a relatively protected region of a car or to otherwise shield the battery pack from potential harm, given the severity of the consequences accompanying a thermal runaway event, techniques for minimizing the effects of such an event are desired. The present invention provides a battery packing system that may be used to provide enhanced battery protection, thereby helping to decrease the likelihood of a damaged battery pack leading to a catastrophic battery pack event.”

What this might mean: Since this patent was filed in 2015, it still carries the old name for Lucid Motors: Atieva. But the idea of a safer battery never goes out of style. Lucid’s idea here is that the battery pack housing (i.e., the part that’s on the outside of the entire thing we generally just call the battery) is designed to short the battery “immediately prior to the battery being punctured.” The patent doesn’t exactly explain how this will work, but says that there could be an insulated layer inside the shell but outside the cells and if “an electrically conductive object” breaks through the enclosure, it will short out the battery. If it all works as planned, this kind of battery can, “decrease the likelihood of a damaged battery pack leading to a catastrophic battery pack event,” Lucid says.

Toyota’s Smarter Hybrid Uses Electricity In Traffic

Toyota smart nav system patent

Filed: October 30, 2015; Published: May 4, 2017

Patent says: “Hybrid-electric vehicles have been developed to utilize an electric battery and a gasoline engine to power the vehicle. Depending on the particular situation, the hybrid-electric vehicle may automatically switch from electric to gasoline (and vice versa) depending on current driving patterns of the driver. As an example, if the user is driving in the city, electric power may activate to reduce gasoline consumption. If the vehicle is driving on the highway, gasoline may power the vehicle. While these current solutions may further extend the range of the vehicle, further efficiencies are not being realized.”

What this might mean: A plug-in gas-electric hybrid vehicle should, for obvious reasons, prioritize using the electricity from the battery over the fuel in the gas tank. While, as Toyota says in this patent, there’s a way to determine which energy source to use by using vehicle speed, you can pull in other bits of information as well. With this patent, Toyota says that a car could calculate out its “energy traffic budget” based in part on historical traffic data and things like the driving habits of a driver. If it can get us to better PHEVs, we’re all for it.

Two-speed Transmission for EVs

ev transmission patent

Filed: December 16, 2015; Published: May 4, 2017

Patent says: “As electric vehicles are getting more and more popular, the performance of a transmission is getting more and more important. Most of existing electric vehicles adopt one-speed transmission with a constant gear ratio of 6.4:1.about.7.5:1. Under such circumstance, when the vehicle is driving up the slope, the one-speed transmission cannot provide a higher torque; and when the vehicle is driving on a flat road, the one-speed transmission cannot provide a higher speed due to the restriction of the transmission gear ratio. Since the existing one-speed transmission cannot be effectively used, many problems will arise. For example, the climbing capability is poor, the start-up is energy consuming, and the efficiency is low. When the vehicle is driving down the slope and the speed is accelerated, the electric motor may be dragged, and to the worse, may even be burnt down.”

What this might mean: People have been wondering about the validity of multiple-speed transmissions in electric vehicles since at least Tesla got rid of the two-speed unit in the original Roadster back in 2008. It’s still a topic of discussion (PDF) between engineers. Since then, most every EV maker has opted to use a single-speed, direct drive to move their electric vehicles. This transmission patent wasn’t put out by a major automaker, but by something called the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Hsinchu, Taiwan. In other words, it’s unlikely that any of the EVs on the market will be upgraded with two-speed transmissions. Still, it’s an engineering issue worth investigating because it is at least theoretically that you can get more performance and better efficiency out of a two-speed transmission.

Source: USPTO

Tags: , , ,

8 responses to "Your Future EV: Hyundai Looks Serious About Wireless Charging"

  1. SparkEV says:

    Hyundai Ioniq would give up its top efficiency billing if used with wireless charging.

    As for EV 2 speed transmission patent, wow, attach “EV” to existing tech, and it’s patentable. What next, patent for EV steering wheel and EV seats? How about patent for inside EV?

    1. Here’s where I show my ignorance, but why would this happen? Isn’t the efficiency based on the battery -> wheels efficiency, not well-to-wheels or charger-to-wheels? I know there are some losses in the wireless transfer, but the EPA doesn’t rate different gasolines on their provenance, so why should it treat electricity any different?

  2. Lou Grinzo says:

    I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with wireless charging.

    If it gets even a small percentage of additional drivers into PEVs, then great! Score one for the good guys!

    But I think that for most drivers its value is overblown, especially in an age of 200+ EVs that are much more amenable to a “recharge only at home” scenario. (Yes, I realize some people can’t charge in a a garage and have to use public chargers, and that for those people wireless is of much greater benefit. So no lectures, please. My point is NOT that those people usage scenarios don’t exist, but that they’re a small enough portion of the total potential customer base that wireless isn’t as big a deal as some people make it out to be.)

    1. Ross says:

      My concern is the reduced efficiency of wireless charging. I agree it makes sense in limited circumstances, but if it results in a lower efficiency of a few percentage points, that’s a huge amount of power wasted over a car’s lifespan.

      1. menorman says:

        Is it less efficient than making hydrogen that some people (not necessarily you per se) are enamored with?

  3. Someone out there says:

    I think a 2 speed transmission might make sense in some situations but I doubt we will see more anytime soon. With a 2 speed you get either good acceleration and low top speed or low acceleration and high top speed, essentially switching between city mode and highway mode.

  4. Djoni says:

    Wireless is for special case use or maybe fleet vehicle like taxi, but for home owner not disable, not very much use.
    Instead of a two speed transmission, I like the idea of an AWD with different final ratio that would give you all the advantage of it but none of the trouble, price, reliability, adding the possible backup of running home with only one motor working.
    Of course all of that has to be fine tune software.

  5. Bloggin says:

    Wireless charging will be critical for faster EV adoption. Driving an EV is about freedom. Freedom from gas, freedom 90% of car routine maintenance, freedom from gas stations, and freedom from having to pump gas. Whether it’s driving to a charger and plugging in, or driving into the garage and plugging in, it’s still that unnecessary step that many who will drive their EV daily, may have to do over 300 times a year.

    Wireless charging takes care of that unnecessary homage to the era of the combustion engine. Dock and Charge. The car should really be able to handle this process itself.