Qualcomm Rolls Out First Commercial Use of Wireless EV Charger

Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), the San Diego wireless technology giant, announced in a blog item this week that its Halo wireless electric vehicle charging technology will be available commercially for the first time in 2017, with the mid-year introduction of the 2018 model of the Mercedes-Benz S550e.

Daimler AG introduced its first plug-in hybrid model in the U.S. last year, the 2016 S550, which combined a V-6 gasoline engine with an integrated 85-kilowatt electric motor and an 8.6 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack (and was priced at $95,325). The charging cable plugs into a socket on the right rear bumper.

The new S550e also is outfitted for wireless charging, which enables the driver to charge by simply parking the car directly over a wireless charging pad. The system, licensed by Qualcomm to an unidentified “Tier 1 power electronics supplier,” uses resonant magnetic induction technology that transfers energy from a mat on the ground to a receiver in the car with no strings or power cables attached. Just “park it and charge it.”

But can’t a hybrid electric car also recharge itself by simply driving around?

In response to questions from Xconomy, a spokesman for Qualcomm explained in an e-mail:

“The s550e is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which means that the traction battery used to power its motors can be recharged by connecting the car in to an external source of electric power. PHEV batteries [also] can be topped up from the internal combustion engine, but this removes the zero emission benefit. PHEVs therefore still need to be charged from the grid while parked to ensure optimal zero emission performance.”

According to Qualcomm, its Halo wireless electric vehicle charging systems have been integrated and successfully tested on a number of different vehicles, including the Renault Fluence; Nissan Leaf; BMW i3; BMW i8 and Honda Accord.

The Qualcomm Halo 7.4 kW systems also are integrated into Qualcomm-sponsored safety cars used in the FIA Formula E racing circuit.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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