The world’s first fleet of electric vehicles powered by a new wireless charging technology will be deployed next year in climate-conscious Norway.
The fleet of 25 electric Jaguar I-Pace model taxis will recharge at inductive charging pads with equipment placed on and under the surface of the road. The fast, hands-free wireless charging technology is made by American company Momentum Dynamics, which collaborated on the Oslo taxi program with the British carmaker and Cabonline/NorgesTaxi, a leading Nordic charge-point company. “We think that wireless charging is a potential game-changer,” said Sture Portvik, a manager of electro-mobility for the City of Oslo.
Impelled by the impact of carbon emissions on climate change, Norwegian lawmakers have mandated the world’s most rapid transition to electric vehicles, complete with generous tax incentives. Norway’s automotive market already has the world’s highest percentage of electric car sales, with battery electric vehicles capturing nearly 50% of the market through June.
Andrew Daga, CEO of Momentum Dynamics, is a former NASA architect who started the company in 2009 to focus on advanced electric vehicle charging. His co-founder, the late Bruce Long, was an electrical engineering professor at Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University. He had developed advanced wireless charging knowledge while on missions in Antarctica with Pennsylvania State University’s geophysics program.
Daga describes the charging method that the Oslo taxis will use as “grazing rather than guzzling”; that is, making brief stops for partial charging throughout the day rather than stopping in one place to recharge to 100%. This eliminates conventional charge points and minimizes downtime for electric cars – a clear benefit to fleet operators. “Convenience is a factor, but efficiency is the point,” said Daga. Morgan Lind, Chief Operating Officer of Recharge Infra, part of leading Nordic charging company Fortum, called it “the perfect charging technology.”
Momentum is in high gear, and plans to double its staff in 2021 in addition to building a new 90,000-square foot headquarters in Malvern, Pennsylvania. The firm recently started working with a major European manufacturer on an urban delivery truck program. It also has a new engineering project underway with Chinese automotive multinational Geely, which owns Volvo, Lotus and the London Electric Vehicle Company.
The Oslo taxis will be the first commercial application of Momentum’s technology. Daga, who worked on the International Space Station, sees potential for extending it to many different forms of transportation, including freight. The hope, according to The New York Times, is that “the new system will prove the efficacy of a wireless charging infrastructure and will be deployed virtually anywhere, speeding the adoption of electric vehicles, which many see as a key element in the de-carbonization of transportation.”