The automaker that is well known for making safe cars, Volvo, is chasing after its goal to produce electric-only vehicles by 2030 very aggressively. The company announced on the 3rd of March 2022 that it will be testing a new wireless charging technology. This could potentially lead to a more seamless charging experience as you wouldn’t need to fumble with cables and connectors, just like the convenience of wireless charging with mobile devices.
Over the next three years, Volvo will be testing this technology in a live city, specifically Gothenburg, Sweden. However, it will not be on passenger vehicles but instead with a small fleet of taxis. Volvo will be working with Cabonline, one of the largest taxi operators in the Nordic region. The XC40 Recharge will be the model to spearhead this technology and will be modified to accommodate the wireless charging hardware.
Select locations in the city will be fitted with wireless charging pads, indicated by a marking on the road. These charging stations will be manufactured by Momentum Dynamics, a U.S based company that specialises in providing wireless electric charging systems.
Just like with a wireless charging compatible mobile device, the driver just needs to place the vehicle over the wireless charging pad on the road. Drivers can use the 360-degree camera system to easily align the vehicle on the charging pad. Once the car is positioned correctly, the charging will commence automatically. Theoretically, there is no need for the driver to get down from the vehicle. But in practice, it will take at least an hour to fully recharge the vehicle, so the driver will have to get down from the vehicle to kill time.
With the current technology, the XC40 Recharge will be charged at 40kW, which is quite impressive given that it’s wireless. It will outperform a wired 11kW AC charger and will be almost as fast as a wired 50kW DC fast charger. Robert Erikson, Volvo’s senior technical leader estimates 30 minutes on the charger will provide 100km of range.
The XC40 Recharge will be used for more than 12 hours a day and cover a distance of up to 100,000km per year. According to Volvo, this will be the first durability test of fully electric Volvo cars in a commercial usage scenario.
Apart from Momentum Dynamics, the company’s own Swedish retailers Volvo Bil and Volvo Car Sörred, Swedish energy company Vattenfall and its charging network InCharge, the city energy company Göteborg Energi, and Business Region Gothenburg, a municipal economic development agency owned by the City of Gothenburg are involved in the wireless charging project.
Gothenburg was chosen because Volvo was one of the companies that were involved with launching the Gothenburg Green City Zone back in January 2021. The initiative designates areas within the city that companies can use to test and develop sustainable technologies in a live city.
Mats Moberg, Head of Research and Development at Volvo Cars said in the press release, “Gothenburg Green City Zone lets us try exciting new technologies in a real environment and evaluate them over time for a potential future broader introduction.” He then added, “Testing new charging technologies together with selected partners is a good way to evaluate alternative charging options for our future cars.”
The end goal will be to transform Gothenburg into a city that has a 100% emission-free transportation by the year 2030. The term given to this goal is “climate-neutral transportation system.”
Automakers can utilise the Gothenburg Green City Zone to accelerate the development of technologies and services in the areas of electrification, shared mobility, autonomous driving, connectivity, and safety.
Volvo is preparing for an electrified future by investing in a brand new Gigafactory in – yes you guessed it – Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo made the announcement as early as the start of February 2022. It has partnered with Northvolt, a battery start-up company founded by two former Tesla veterans who were involved in the successful construction of Tesla’s first Gigafactory in Nevada with Panasonic.
The Volvo-Northvolt Gigafactory will be located in Torslanda, Gothenburg, just a stone’s throw from Volvo’s largest automobile factory. When complete in 2025, the Gigafactory will churn out 500,000 electric vehicles with a capacity of 50GWh annually. For this massive project, Volvo has invested SEK 30 billion (~RM12.7 billion). Just a few days later, Volvo announced it will be investing SEK 10 billion (~RM4.2 billion) to upgrade the existing Torsland manufacturing plant. The upgraded plant will allow Volvo to manufacture advanced components like mega casted aluminium body parts and a new battery assembly line among others.