Volvo proves with Gothenburg induction charging for taxis

An electric taxi parking on a particular ‘hotspot’ and fast charging at 40 kW while waiting for the next customer. It’s already a concept proving in its first year the practical feasibility. No wires to plug in. Just park and charge for 30 minutes for an extra 100 km of range. Swedish carmaker Volvo has set up with its hometown of Gothenburg, a pilot for twenty taxis.

Apart from a blue square painted on the parking spot, nothing indicates a charging pad embedded in the street underneath. The equipment, including two 175 kW charger cabinets conveniently set apart some ten meters away on the trottoir, is delivered by American InductEV (former Momentum Dynamics), in which Volvo is an investor.

Magnetic induction charging for buses

InductEV claims to be a leader in developing wireless power charging technology for electric vehicles. The company’s proprietary magnetic induction system offers mainly a solution for commercial electric vehicles, like buses with several induction pads mounted underneath for faster charging.

Under the Volvos XC40 Recharge used by Cabonline, Sweden’s largest taxi operator, a similar pad to the one under the asphalt is mounted under the front axle. Using the ground view of the 360-degree camera system of the car, the driver has to align with a white marker in front of him to ensure both pads are ‘connected.’ The current moves through the air at a 15 – 20 cm distance.

Perfectly safe

It’s perfectly safe, ensures Robert Eriksson, Senior Technical Leader at Volvo Cars, as the slightest movement detected under the car by the cameras underneath will immediately stop the charging process. So even when your cat ducks under your vehicle, it won’t get roasted.

You need metal, like on an induction cooking plate, to have the magnetic induction working. Even a tin car rolling under the vehicle will stop the process for safety reasons. For the driver, it’s very convenient, as all he has to do is park the car neatly over the blue square en watch the charging process while he can enjoy the heated cockpit and the entertainment system of the vehicle.

Charging is four times faster than a regular public 11 kW AC charger. The car is recognized by a unique ID, and billing is performed automatically by Swedish energy company Vattenfall and its charging network InCharge.

While waiting for the next customer, the taxi driver can watch the charging process on his central screen while enjoying the comfort of the car /NMN

The three-year test phase set up at the Lindholmen Science Park in Gothenburg is part of the city’s ‘Green City Zone’ where infrastructure and technologies for achieving emission-free transport are tested in the wake of 2030.

After doing 25 to 30 times the equivalent of a circumnavigation in one year with 20 taxis charging with induction whenever they have to wait for customers, the pilot proves to be a success. One of them already has more than 110 000 km on the odometer.

According to Eriksson, charging by induction proves to have minimal energy losses, only 1%. The other losses of up to 10% are due to cables and infrastructure, similar to regular DC charging.

For Volvo, it’s an opportunity to be part of Gothenburg’s Green City project. “Using a real city as a testing ground will enable the company to accelerate the development of technologies and services in electrification, shared mobility, autonomous driving, connectivity, and safety,” the carmaker states. But there is no word yet when we can expect your regular Volvo Recharge to be equipped with this new feature.


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