Kia Develops Wireless Charging System for EVs

Evan Williams
by Evan Williams

Kia has developed a new wireless charging system for use on the Soul EV.

Kia calls it an important step in the future of EVs. The Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center (HATCI) has been in a three-year partnership with California-based wireless power company Mojo Mobility to develop automotive wireless charging. Mojo has worked on wireless power transfer for automotive use as well as for mobile and medical devices. The project was partly funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

HATCI and Mojo first worked on a compact wireless charging system that could transfer more than 10 kilowatts through to the vehicle. The two were able to achieve power transfer efficiency of more than 85 percent. The system has been installed on five Soul EVs and is being tested for durability, safety, and performance.

The system works by using an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between a transmitting coil on the ground and a receiving coil on the car. The system is efficient enough that some misalignment between car and charger is OK, which makes it easier for real-world owners to use. You won’t need to park with surgical precision every time.

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“We’re thrilled with the success of the system and its efficiency,” said William Freels, HATCI President. “We set out to develop wireless charging that has real-world applications and is easy to use for the consumer. Now, with this fleet of wireless Soul EVs, we can clearly see a future of unplugged electric vehicles.”

The 10-kW charge rate isn’t as fast as a full Level 2 charger, but should still be capable of in the area of 30 miles per hour of charge. For overnight parking, that level of charge would top up the Soul in around four hours.

Kia doesn’t plan to introduce the technology on the current Soul, however. This is an exercise in developing similar systems that could see duty on future Kia electric vehicles.

Kia isn’t the first to develop wireless EV charging. Other automakers, including Ford, BMW, Nissan, and Toyota are working on it. Mercedes-Benz expects to offer the feature on the on an upcoming S-Class sedan.

A version of this story originally appeared on HybridCars

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Evan Williams
Evan Williams

Evan moved from engineering to automotive journalism 10 years ago (it turns out cars are more interesting than fibreglass pipes), but has been following the auto industry for his entire life. Evan is an award-winning automotive writer and photographer and is the current President of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. You'll find him behind his keyboard, behind the wheel, or complaining that tiny sports cars are too small for his XXXL frame.

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