High speed induction charging could be a reality for Tesla Semi

The Tesla Semi electric truck. Source: Tesla

The much awaited Tesla Semi – its electric truck – is suffering more delays, but there are signs that its hefty charging requirements might be able to be met by inductive wireless charging technology developed by a US-based company called Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification, or Wave for short.

Wave recently made headlines after it was awarded a cooperative purchasing contract in the wireless inductive charging solutions category from Sourcewell – a self-funded American government cooperative purchasing organisation.

Signing with Wave – a subsidiary of Ideanomics, which was founded by none other than WWE wrestling veteran Shane McMahon – opens the door for greater access to the company’s wireless battery charging systems.

“One of the biggest challenges fleet operators face in moving to climate-friendly, zero-emission vehicles is matching the range- and duty-cycle of outgoing fossil fuel-based vehicles,” said Michael Masquelier, CEO of Wave.

“Fast, high-power, automated wireless charging will enable Sourcewell members to more easily extend the range of their next-generation EVs, making the transition to a more sustainable fleet easier.”

Wave, which was acquired by Ideanomics in January, is a leading provider of induct wireless charging solutions for medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles. Its wireless charging systems can be embedded in roadways or parking lots and provide fully automated and hands-free charging with power ranging from 125kW to 500kW and higher.

The company currently has commercially available wireless charging systems up to 250kW and is in the process of developing higher power systems.

The “park and charge” wireless charging made possible by Wave hopes to not only make EV adoption easier for fleet operators of all types, but can be used in a variety of sectors including mass transit, logistics, airport and campus shuttles, drayage fleets, and off-road vehicles at ports and industrial sites.

While the specifics of Wave’s work have been hard to come by, a handful of Twitter sleuths recently got their hands on the contract between Sourcewell and Wave which has served to better illuminate the possibilities of WAVE’s wireless charging.

For example, as shown in the Tweet above, when asked to describe “any technological advances” that Wave products or services might offer, WAVE explained that it was “working to install a 500kWwireless extreme fast charger for two EV drivetrain drayage trucks”.

It says igt is already “contracted to deliver a 1MW charger that provides over 400 miles [(nearly 650-kilometres)] of range for the daily round-trip package delivery routes from Seattle to Portland.”

Another Twitter user found even more specifics in the contract, this time regarding how Wave believes its wireless charging technology could benefit heavy-duty electric trucks such as the Tesla Semi.

Specifically, the contract states the following:

“The current state-of-the-art drayage truck charging features primarily conductive chargers. The recently announced Tesla Semi concept design has the largest advertised range of 500 miles with a target 80% charge in 30 minutes. The battery pack is estimated to be at least 800 kWh (likely much higher to cover full load and all conditions) and must have a target charge rate of at approximately 1.5 MW. The system under development via the US DOE contract of charging an electric drayage truck at extreme fast-charging power levels will be the fastest charger by a significant margin.”

The contract goes on to explain that Wave’s wireless charging technology can transfer power up to 250kW “for bus charging applications over an air gap of up to 250 mm (10 in)” using “a scalable modular approach.”

Wave also boasts in the contract of a contract with the United States Department of Electricity to develop both a 500kW and 1MW extreme fast charging system which the company says would allow heavy-duty trucks and transit buses to be recharged in 20-30 minutes.

This potentially revolutionary charging time was highlighted in the same context as the Tesla Semi, and provides a glimpse of how the Tesla Semi and other electric trucks could move towards greater adoption.

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