The short answer to “When will Tesla release wireless charging?” is that they can announce it tomorrow, as the technology is ready, but we don’t expect it any time soon Other manufacturers, with technology from WiTricity, have already launched vehicles with this charging now.
However, Tesla still hasn’t announced it officially, so let’s deep dive into the whole situation.
Tesla is Developing Wireless Charging
In December 2023, when the Cybertruck was still not launched, Jay Leno posted a video review of the truck with Franz von Holzhausen and Tesla’s VP of Vehicle Engineering, Lars Moravy.
Franz confirmed that they had already begun developing an Inductive Charging platform, where you wouldn’t need to plug anything in, just drive your car onto the charging pad in your garage and boom! It will start charging.
BREAKING: Tesla directly confirms they are working on a wireless (inductive) charging pad for your garage where you just park over it and it automatically starts charging your vehicle. https://t.co/OK2ZRmAtVx pic.twitter.com/dfPq0H3egr— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) December 18, 2023
Since then there has been a lot of speculation about when Tesla will release this technology for us normal folks to grab.
Our Initial Opinion on the Technology
While we always have a certain degree of admiration when it comes to Tesla’s innovativeness, this time, we had our doubts.
You won't be pulling into your garage and using inductive charging at home any time in the next 10 years. I don't see it. The technology is not good enough. Even at a distance of 1mm, which would require a mechanism that lifts up to your car when you get home, it's slow. Plugging… https://t.co/1sYE4poWEY— Jowua (@JowuaLife) December 18, 2023
1. This technology still had a long way to go and could take at least 10 years to come to the open market
2. Aligning the car with the charging pad would be much more time-consuming than simply plugging it in
3. On top of that, the charging speed would be frustratingly slow
It seemed like going backward while trying to go forward, a gear malfunction, I guess.
But when tech giants like Tesla dabble into technology, there’s always a belief that they have conducted viability research.
Also, a quick stat search showed us that the global wireless EV charging systems market is estimated to reach $2.5 billion by 2030!
This called for some deep diving. Did we underestimate a highly fruitful technology?
Interview with WiTricity’s Pamposh Zutshi
We picked up the phone and reached out to several of the Top 10 companies working on Wireless technology. Fortunately, we grabbed an interview with WiTricity.
We had a long Q&A session with Mr. Pamposh Zutshi, the Senior Director of Product Management at Witricity, to gain some industry insights.
Here’s the gist of it:
Q. Is the Wireless Charging Technology hyped or maybe even overhyped, and is not nearing market readiness?
A. I would prefer not to say “over-hyped”; our technology is clearly market-ready as evidenced by the OEMs integrating it with existing vehicle models, and we are working with several OEMs on new SOP platforms.
Q. Wireless Charging Technology can’t replace fast charging, can it?
A. That is correct for “range extension”; it is pertinent to note that the overwhelming majority of EV charging happens at home and the intent of wireless charging is to make that effortless and “mind off”, i.e., you never have to think about it.
Q. Is the main feature of Wireless EV Charging Lower Magnetic Coupling operation?
A. That is a key feature, but there are others as well.
Q. Does WiTricity work with the SAE on the standardization of the technology, which currently is called J3400?
A. We worked with SAE for over a decade and the accepted industry standard is called SAE J2954
Q. Are the different power levels under J3400 Z1 for sports cars, Z2 for sedans or SUV, Z3 for trucks?
A. The Z1/Z2/Z3 levels refer to ground-clearance ranges of vehicles; please note that we used “sports car/sedan/SUV/trucks” as examples – there could be cross-over between SUVs and Trucks, for example
Q. Will the charge rate be the same as level 2?
A. The Charge rate as well as “grid-to-battery efficiency.
Q. Are Power-Snacking, Car Park/Fleet, and home the main applications?
A. In terms of importance, home charging is the most important followed by fleet and power snacking.
Q. Will the fleet use case be first?
A. This will vary by the OEM.
Q. Can we expect a mass integration of this technology with automotive companies in the next 3 to 4 years?
A. That is correct, and some OEMs are moving faster than the traditional 3-4 years
Q. Is it true that Hyundai Genesis GV60 already has WiTricity’s Wireless Charging and Ioniq 6 has made the space to add the receiver for a future pack?
A. For the Genesis GV60, that is correct. Other models, including the Ioniq, share that platform but we cannot definitively comment on other models.
Q. Also, does FAW, a Chinese brand, already have automated parking and wireless charging in a vehicle that is available to the public?
A. That is correct – the FAW Hongqi E-HS9
Q. Can Tesla live up to its commitment of “It could be as soon as Tesla says to do it. It could be now?
A. We cannot comment on specific OEMs.
Our Takeaway from the Interview
We stand corrected on a few of our initial doubts:
1. 10 years is longer than the current industry situation: With a few models already bringing the technology to the market, the competition can intensify any time within the next 3 to 4 years forcing other OEMs to offer the technology to its clientele.
2. Alignment with the Wireless Charger can be difficult: Here’s a video of the Hyundai Genesis GV60 getting wirelessly charged in Korea, and it looks pretty simple.
But this doesn’t completely prove us wrong. The big relevant question of when Tesla will release it to the mass market is still unanswered, here’s are analysis of why that’s so.
Why Tesla Hasn’t Released Wireless Charging Yet?
Here are some of the reasons why Tesla won’t be releasing the Wireless Charging any time soon:
1. Technology Differences:
First of all, as you can hear Franz say in the video, they are working on the “Inductive” Charging Technology. While a casual reader might think it’s the same as Wireless Charging Technology, that’s not completely true.
On doing some further research into Wireless Charging Technology for EVs, we found out it has two variants - Magnetic Resonant Coupling (MRC) & Inductive Coupling or Inductive Power Transfer (IPT).
While discussing with Mr. Zutshi, we got an idea that currently, most OEMs are going for MRC. But Tesla, seems to be working on the IPT variant, as it always goes against the current!
So What’s the Difference Between MRC & IPT?
1. While MRC is very effective for low or medium-power, IPT is better for high-voltage power transfer. This is because in MRC, uses compensation capacitors, to tune in the primary and secondary coils in resonant frequency, but in IPT, no resonant circuit is used.
2. MRC is safer and can work over a longer transmission distance, but IPT is faster.
Credits: IET Research
2. Static Vs Dynamic Wireless Charging:
Currently Static Wireless Charging is being implemented, where the EV should be stationary in let’s say a parking lot. That doesn’t offer a great value proposition to the EV owners. It is mostly for “Power Snacking” and convenience, as the interview with Mr. Zutshi suggests.
Credits: IET Research
The real application of Wireless Charging can come in the form of “Range Extension” and that is only possible when Dynamic Wireless technology is perfected.
In Dynamic Wireless Charging, the EVs can be powered while driving, i.e. they don’t need to be stationary.
Nissan, Volvo, and Qualcomm have all shown some great progress in the Dynamic EV charging space, but it’s still in a nascent stage and is far from being commercialized.
Therefore, if Tesla has to offer something that’s truly of use to the EV owners, it would try to look into the Dynamic EV Charging solutions.
Otherwise, Tesla would first want to gauge the market acceptability of the Static Wireless Charging technology, before entering into the business, i.e. if it starts losing market share because of this one feature.
3. Creating a New Production Ramp:
Tesla’s current production process does not include wireless charging, and they aren’t going to redo the line for existing cars just to add wireless charging.
The next-gen manufacturing platform, NV9X could take into account Wireless Charging, but that won’t go into production until 2025.
Tesla Wireless Charging - A Summary
We predicted that no car would utilize wireless charging within the next decade, and it seems our forecast will hold true, especially for Tesla. Unlike other manufacturers, who might adopt wireless charging promptly as a strategy to catch up to Tesla, leveraging it as a marketing tool, we anticipate Tesla to approach this technology with caution. Much like Apple's strategy, Tesla is likely to wait until wireless charging offers substantial value to consumers before integrating it into their vehicles.
Specifically, Tesla's upcoming NV9X platform, designated for a lower-cost compact car and possibly a commercial van, is not expected to feature wireless charging. The rationale behind this is twofold: the high cost of incorporating the technology and the lack of practicality for a commercial van's needs. Therefore, if Tesla were to embrace wireless charging, it would be in a future production line beyond the NV9X. This approach underscores our belief that Tesla will prioritize genuine consumer benefit over rapid adoption of emerging technologies, affirming our 10-year prediction.