As transit agencies all over the world transition to zero-emission electric vehicles, there is a corresponding need to expand the electric utility charging infrastructure that will allow an electric fleet to seamlessly succeed the legacy diesel counterparts. To enable this grand transition to “new energy” infrastructure, many agencies are already implementing wireless charging for their electric fleets, and one of the companies providing this option is Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification, or WAVE for short.
Founded in 2011, WAVE is a technology company focused on creating practical and economical solutions for the transit and off-road industrial electric vehicle markets worldwide. WAVE is a developer of inductive charging solutions for medium and heavy-duty vehicles in the U.S., and has demonstrated the capability to develop and integrate high power charging systems onto heavy-duty electric vehicles.
The company’s inductive charging system sends power through the air from a primary pad embedded in the roadway to a secondary receiver pad mounted on the vehicle’s undercarriage, thereby minimizing the need for on-board battery storage. The wireless charging station is comprised of a primary pad embedded in the roadway and an above ground primary enclosure containing power electronics for the system. The charging station is sufficiently ruggedized to serve multiple generations of electric buses, enabled by an easily accessible design that enables future updates and upgrades without major construction.
WAVE’s technology offers specific advantages over other charging methods. The inductive power transfer eliminates the hassle of cords or overhead infrastructure. In fact, wireless chargers offer a more aesthetically pleasing option for a transit agency or fleet operator and take up much less space than plug-in or overhead chargers. The system is designed to be interoperable with multiple vehicle OEMs and has completed successful integration with four different vehicle OEMs.
The company initially deployed 50 kW chargers and now has commercial deployments at six U.S. locations. These systems act as en-route chargers, allowing electric buses to charge during layovers as passengers board and disembark, without disrupting normal operations. En-route charging allows electric vehicles to extend their operational range, reduce onboard battery size, and increase the overall life of the battery. The system boasts some of the most successful deployments since 2014, including some running four all-electric buses for up to 16 hours a day, seven-days a week, while maintaining a >50% charger duty-cycle, and prompting the recent installation of an additional charger and four more electric buses.
These successful deployments and increased power demands from more challenging routes have led WAVE to build a 250kW high power wireless charging system that is the most powerful system in the nation, with five times the power of previous wireless charging systems. The 250kW system is a leading-edge product and is already assisting agencies aiming to fully transition their fleets to 100% electric.
WAVE is now mirroring their success into additional markets, including two projects to demonstrate zero-emission range extension technology with ports in California by integrating 250-500kW wireless charging on electric port vehicles. WAVE is delivering a high-power wireless charger for the first ever demonstration of an all-electric container handler. These wireless chargers will significantly accelerate the adoption of zero-emission electric trucks, allowing ports to meet the new zero-emission targets imposed by the State of California.
WAVE was also selected by the Department of Energy to deploy and demonstrate a first-of-its-kind 500kW inductive charger to support zero-emission battery electric drayage trucks. Embedded directly and discretely into the roadway, WAVE’s system will provide extremely high power en-route charging to the zero-emission drayage trucks, enabling them to complete the rigorous duty cycles associated with around-the-clock freight operations.
Today, wireless charging is widely used among several industries because it offers the promise of increased mobility and advances. The future of wireless charging is not only a world without wires, but a world where charging can be completed while on the move. WAVE continually strives to accelerate its technology to meet the higher power required by heavy-duty electric vehicle markets. With higher power levels and the ability to charge electric vehicles wirelessly, WAVE can be an ideal system for operators. Wireless charging eliminates the need for charging downtime and vehicle rescheduling, illustrating the “Holy Grail” of future transportation.
In the fast-changing environment of electric vehicles and related technologies, the shift toward WAVE would give operators a cutting-edge in an industry based on the growing trend of vehicle autonomy.
Michael Masquelier is CEO at WAVE