Could matrix charging be way forward for electric vehicles?

Matrix changing in a car park

Austrian start-up Easelink has developed a technology with which electric vehicles can be automatically charged via pads fastened to the ground, anywhere from underground garages to drive-ins.

Anytime electric vehicles are standing still, they could also potentially be charging. Current standard methods for charging electric vehicles do not support this; cumbersome cable connections are a stumbling block to the penetration of electromobility, grappling with non-standard plugs, dirty cable bundles and expensive charging columns make the charging of electric cars frustrating and inconvenient.

Easelink has therefore re-envisioned the charging of electric vehicles. Cables and charging columns could become obsolete. The charging process will be automated and take place without the user even noticing – time spent parked will effectively become time spent charging.

The technology at the core is called matrix charging. A connector that lowers from the undercarriage of the electric vehicle docks entirely automatically with a pad fastened to the ground, which is connected to the power grid. The exact parking point and the orientation of the vehicle don’t matter.

The connector that lowers from the vehicle locks itself automatically to the six-sided metallic contact surfaces of the pad.

“With matrix charging, electric vehicles are charged automatically and without cables – this smart technology operates itself without user intervention,” said Easelink founder Hermann Stockinger. “This will also increase the perceived range of electric vehicles. From parking garages or drive-ins to private parking spaces or railway crossings, any time spent standing still can be used for charging the electric vehicle.”

Based on conduction, the system achieves a transmission performance of up to 43kW DC or 22kW AC, with an efficiency exceeding 99 per cent. For comparison, induction methods based on electromagnetic waves do not achieve even a quarter of this performance, and they offer practically no parking tolerance.

“Matrix charging therefore satisfies all the prerequisites to become the international standard for charging electric vehicles,” said Stockinger.

Car makers around the world are studying the potential of the technology. Prototypes of the system are being validated in a wide range of development environments on multiple continents. Specifically, the Asian car maker Great Wall Motors has demonstrated its interest in matrix charging. At the last IAA in Frankfurt, the Asian group presented the system in a concept vehicle of the premium brand Wey.

The presentation of the technology at the Guangzhou Automobile Exhibition in Asia also awoke interest within the automotive industry.

“We are currently involved in numerous intensive negotiations with car makers around the world, and we are pursuing the clear goal of making matrix charging the global standard over the medium term,” said Stockinger.

As a system, the pads and connectors are many times less expensive than existing and upcoming charging methods, making them suitable for mass introduction.

“Matrix charging can be integrated into any series production model and makes automated charging, which has so far been reserved for the premium class, possible in all automobile segments,” said Stockinger.

While the technology could become an additional boost to electric car makers, infrastructure operators can also profit from matrix charging. The technology is said to be the only conductive and fully automatic charging technology, and no moving parts are required on the infrastructure side. This makes the system robust and enables scalability.

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