Patents for electric drive vehicles continue to be filed and approved at a frantic pace. Here's our latest look at some recent electric vehicle patents, and we think that you're gonna like more than one of these technologies in your 2020 Leaf or Bolt (ahem wireless charging ahem). Or, well, if we ever see the Lucid Air in the real world, we'll take the off-board fast charging assistant tech, thankyouverymuch. Remember, though, just because a company is granted a patent, it doesn't mean anything in the real world. But it could. Maybe. Perhaps.
Lucid Motors: Better DC fast charging
Patent says: "An auxiliary thermal management system is provided that can be used to supplement an electric vehicle's on-board thermal management system during charging, thereby allowing a fast charging system to be used without adding weight or taking up packaging volume in the EV. The auxiliary system is configured to allow it to be coupled, for example using quick-disconnect couplings, to thermal conduits within the vehicle's battery pack."
What this might mean: While higher-capacity EV batteries mean there's less real-world need for fast charging, people do still love them some quick charging. And why not? Shorter chargers means there's less waiting, and more driving, which is better for every EV owner. Lucid Motors, which filed this patent when it was still Atieva, says that it has new, fast-charging tech that can, " maintain optimal battery temperature while charging at high charging rates and at high ambient temperatures." That's because Lucid's idea is to have an "auxiliary thermal management system that is external to and independent of the EV." This means that the EV itself can be lighter and cheaper, and one thermal management system can work with multiple cars.
You can also tell when a start-up files a patent vs. a traditional OEM, because big car companies don't say that their cool, new EV tech is meant to meet, "the demands of consumers who are driven both by ever-escalating fuel prices and the dire consequences of global warming." Lucid did, though, so props for that.
Nissan/BMW: Wireless EV chargers
Patent says: "The vehicle-mounting structure for a wireless power reception device ... the battery being electrically connected to the power-reception-side coil and configured to store power transmitted from the power-supply-side coil." (Nissan) "The charging station incorporates a charging unit ... which is designed for the delivery of electrical energy in the form of a direct current to a first interface on the charging unit." (BMW)
What this might mean: Wireless charging is one obvious future tech enhancement for electric vehicles. The when and where of official deployment remains a big unknown, but these two patents, filed within two days of each other last year, hint that we're gonna get a wireless "plug-in" car sooner rather than later.
Hon Hai Precision: End ICE-ing with this fold-down parking barrier EV charger
Patent says: "The battery charging apparatus includes a charging pile, a driving member electrically coupled to the charging pile and powered by the charging pile, and a parking barrier positioned adjacent to the charging pile. The parking barrier includes a fixing base, a barrier mechanism, an elastic member, a connecting member. ... The barrier mechanism is driven to fall down when the driving member pulls the connecting member."
What this might mean: This patent might seem like a weird little idea from a company you've never heard of, but don't let that first impression fool you. For starters, Hon Hai has another name, one that most of you have heard of: Foxconn. Second, we pulled a somewhat opaque quote for the "Patent says" section. This one is clearer: "The subject matter herein generally relates to a parking barrier for preventing vehicles from using reserved spaces and a battery charging apparatus using the parking barrier." Basically, Foxconn has thought up some anti-ICE'ing tech here, and we know there are more than a few EV drivers who would like to see something like this installed, STAT.
Daimler: Smaller, cheaper fuel cells
Patent says: "A treatment device for treating exhaust gas of a fuel cell stack of a fuel cell system. ... Since the function of the water separator is thus integrated in the humidifier, the present installation space is particularly efficiently utilized and particularly much installation space can be saved compared to a consecutive arrangement of humidifier and water separator in a constructional unit. This is also associated with saving of components otherwise to be provided for water separation. Thus, the cost associated with these components can also be reduced."
What this might mean: Fuel cell stacks are notoriously expensive, so any automaker that's working on them is interested in reducing cost and size. As this patent shows, the two are connected. Given that Daimler submitted this patent almost two years ago, who knows where things stand today, but it's good to see more of the small ways that OEMs are looking to make all sorts of zero-emission technology better.