WPC to Develop Industry Standard for Wireless Charging for Light Electric Vehicles

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The market for Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) has been experiencing rapid growth largely due to the popularity of eBikes and eKickscooters; although other devices such as electric skateboards are also included in this market. Currently, most eBikes and eKickscooters have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the same type of batteries that power smartphones and laptops, yet there is no universal charging standard ensuring safety. LEV batteries can fail when damaged, overcharged, or operated in extreme temperatures. Batteries for LEVs can be up to 100 times larger than the ones used in personal electronics, such as smartphones, and pose a greater risk of catastrophic failure from worn or damaged chargers that has been tied to fires. Currently, LEVs are charged using bulky wired chargers, prompting the need for safety, interoperability, and convenience standards.

The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), an international group of more than 300 companies collaborating to create and promote standards for wireless power transfer, already has developed the Qi standard for wirelessly charging smartphones as well as the Ki standard for kitchen appliances. The WPC is also developing a universal charging standard for LEVs, initially targeting electric bikes and scooters. The standard is intended to accommodate a wider range of future LEVs, helping the standard to be future proof. Having already demonstrated a wireless charger for an eBike at IFA in 2023, more demonstrations will likely follow at future shows such as CES in 2024 along with news that the release of the specification is not too far away, possibly coming in the next couple of years.

A wireless charging standard would definitely be a benefit to the LEV market; however, it is unlikely to result in an immediate boost to the market, taking some time to become a common feature, especially in the consumer market. This kind of technology will be much more popular in public spaces where it will allow vehicles from multiple manufacturers to charge in the same charging stations as well as potentially allowing different types of LEV to use the same charger. Wireless charging could also be very useful for rental companies as it will not rely on users reconnecting the LEV once they’ve finished. It would also make sense if this technology was further developed to be used in charging robots, meaning it could deployed in industrial settings such as factories and warehouses allowing one set of chargers to power different kinds of robots.

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