Auto Tech

Kia develops wireless EV fast-charging with Soul EV

It's pretty efficient, even if the vehicle isn't lined up perfectly.

Kia

Wireless EV charging is still a fledgling technology, but that doesn't mean it's reserved for expensive cars alone.

Kia announced today that it has been hard at work on wireless fast-charging technology for the past three years. The project is a joint effort with Mojo Mobility and the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It relied on a fleet of Soul EVs, currently the only electric car the Korean manufacturer has on sale.

Don't expect a retrofit kit for your Soul EV, but the system will likely see the light of day in future Kia EVs.

Kia

Kia's wireless charging solution provides more than 10 kilowatts of juice to a vehicle with a grid-to-vehicle efficiency rate of 85 percent. Kia also noted that its wireless charger doesn't require spot-on parking precision. Even if it's misaligned slightly, it will still work efficiently enough.

Wireless EV charging works just like it does on your phone. There's a transmitter coil built into a base, and a receiver coil built into the vehicle. When the two coils line up, an electromagnetic field allows the transfer of energy from transmitter to receiver. As with phones, some of the energy is lost as it's transmitted from charger to vehicle, which is why automakers and research labs are working to improve efficiency as much as possible.

Sadly, Kia says there is no current plan to bring its system to production for consumers. That said, it hasn't ruled out doing something similar in the future.

We've seen higher output and efficiency rates, but Oak Ridge National Laboratory's wireless charger was just a proof-of-concept build. BMW has a similar system for its 530e plug-in hybrid, but output is lower at 3.2 kW.

Other companies believe wireless charging is the way forward, albeit with different ways of achieving the same goal. Continental would like to cover parking spots with wireless chargers so that EVs gain a bit of charge here and there throughout the day. Qualcomm wants to add inductive charging to roads, so that EVs can receive some charge as they move along.