While Tesla relies on its Supercharger network for fast charging, the industry continues to look for alternative ways to cut waiting times at charging stations for EV owners.
In China, for example, battery swapping stations are becoming increasingly common, with NIO leading the way when it comes to this solution.
Another alternative solution is wireless charging, although this tech remains largely restricted to pilot projects here and there. Volvo Cars is the latest company to start such a trial in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The carmaker says it is integrating and testing a new wireless charging technology in a live city environment to evaluate its potential for future electric cars. Over a three-year period, a small fleet of fully electric Volvo XC40 Recharge SUVs will be used by Cabonline, the largest taxi operator in the Nordic region, and charged wirelessly at stations in the city.
In total, the Volvo XC40 Recharge EVs will be used for more than 12 hours a day and drive 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles) per year, making this the first durability test of fully electric Volvo cars in a commercial usage scenario.
Gallery: Volvo XC40 Recharge wireless charging pilot in Sweden
The charging starts automatically when a compatible vehicle parks over a charging pad embedded in the street, allowing drivers to charge without getting out of their car. The charging station sends energy through the charging pad, which is picked up by a receiver unit in the car.
The trick is to align the car with the charging pad and that’s where Volvo's 360-degree camera system will come in handy. The XC40 Recharge vehicles will draw more than 40 kilowatts of wireless charging power, which is around four times faster than a wired 11 kW AC charger and almost as fast as a wired 50 kW DC fast charger.
Obviously, it's far below the highest wired DC fast charging speeds available at the moment; for example, Hyundai Motor Group's 800-volt E-GMP architecture enables DC fast charging at up to 350 kW.
The charging stations used in the test are delivered by Momentum Dynamics, a leading provider of wireless electric charging systems. Other companies involved in the project are Swedish energy company Vattenfall and its charging network InCharge, the city energy company Göteborg Energi, and Business Region Gothenburg, a municipal economic development agency owned by the City of Gothenburg.
The wireless charging pilot is one of many projects developed under the Gothenburg Green City Zone initiative that allows designated areas within the city to be used as live testbeds for the development of sustainable technologies.