How Wire-Free Charging Will Affect The Automotive Industry

In-Car Charging

The United States is home to the largest passenger vehicle market of any country in the world. Overall, there were an estimated 254.4 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States according to a recent DOT study. So it’s not surprising that charging phones and other devices in cars, vans and trucks has attracted the attention of US automobile manufacturers.

Today, cellphones, smartphones and tablets are a part of everyday life. According to PewResearch, as of January 2014, 90% of American adults have a cellphone, 58% have a smartphone and 42% own a tablet computer. Anyone using these devices knows just how fast the battery can drain. From commuters and vacationers to contractors and service people to law enforcement and emergency workers, having a charged phone or other battery operated device in their vehicle can be very important if not life critical.

Following the Dodge Dart, Jeep Cherokee and Toyota Avalon in 2013, Chrysler, Ford and Toyota all offered in-vehicle wire-free charging solutions in 2014. These vehicles include the Dart, Viper, Caravan, Town & Country, 200, RAM, F150, Super Duty, Edge, Fusion and Scion xB10 which are using conductive wire-free technology for charging phones and tablets. The Avalon, Cherokee and Camry XL are using inductive wire-free charging for phones. Reports indicate that other vehicles and manufacturers will enter the market over the next few years including factory installed, accessory upgrades and aftermarket products.

At the present time inductive wire-free charging is dedicated to charging one phone in vehicles. Conductive in-vehicle charging however has the power to charge more than one phone. Conductive in-vehicle charging can also charge iPads, tablets and other devices. While Mom can be charging her smart phone, kids can be charging their tablet in the back seat.

Like many new automotive electronic products the road to the commercial marketplace can be difficult and time consuming. Automotive OEMs are keenly interested that any device being integrated into their vehicle will function harmoniously with existing electronics and mechanical systems and require Design Failure Mode/Effects Analysis (DFMEA). This includes various Electrical Requirements including minimum/maximum operating voltage & current draw, reverse voltage requirement, power-line voltage ripple, transients. The device is also required to meet specific Electromotive Compatibility (EMC) and Electromotive Interference (EMI) requirements. The device must not emit harmful levels of electromagnetic radiation or excessive electronic “noise” that interferes with other devices in the vehicle.

As wire-free charging technology is adopted and implemented into more vehicles it will be a natural progression to see wire-free charging used in other devices and other transportation. These would include tablets, laptops, power tools, small appliances, mobile printers and scanners for emergency and commercial vehicles, trucking and recreational vehicles. Console chargers can keep smartphones, tablets and laptops fully charged. Interior shelving with wire-free charging can keep power tools, laptops and other products charged for contractors and service people during their drive between worksites and appointments.

In order to operate these higher power applications wire-free charging must generate additional wattage. Reports indicate that inductive resonance will increase from 5 to 15 watts, with magnetic resonance reaching 50 watts and conductive providing over 150 watts.

According to MarketsandMarkets Research, the total wireless charging market is expected to grow by over 60 percent (CAGR) per year from 2014 to 2020, reaching over $13 billion. While wire-free charging addresses a number of markets many believe that automotive will be the key to driving the market. As additional vehicles and manufacturers enter the market over the next few years we expect to see wire-free charging employed in everyday life across multiple demographics in schools, businesses and at home.

Randall Marx

Randall Marx is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of fliCharge. He is also the founder of Asia Pacific Materials. (APM), a Hong Kong Corporation located in offices in the US, Dong Guan, China and Guangzhou, China. APM is a development, manufacturing and marketing services company specialising in technology products made in China and sold internationally.