First UK wireless charging trial to begin in Nottingham

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In the UK city of Nottingham, nine electric taxis will be adorned in a new green and blue livery to signify that they are part of a new wireless charging electric vehicle trial: WiCET (Wireless Charging of Electric Taxis). The trial, which is the first of its kind in the UK, is being funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV).

Five plug-in hybrid LEVC TX electric taxis, and four electric Nissan Dynamo taxis, will promote the WiCET branding, with ‘This electric taxi will charge wirelessly’ emblazoned over concentric rings that signify the wireless power transfer.

The taxis will be available on Nottingham’s streets for hail by the general public as they capture vehicle data for the trial, including journey distances and battery level. Posters inside the taxis will help inform passengers how wireless charging works and the benefits of charging wirelessly.

The first two WiCET electric taxis were fitted with wireless charging technology earlier this summer, and the remaining vehicles will be wirelessly enabled at the beginning of next year.

Wireless EV charging occurs when a compatible vehicle is stationary over a wireless induction pad, which can be built into the roads surface, to top up battery power. This offers a convenient alternative to conventional plug-in charge points without the need for cables. The technology is similar to that already used for wireless mobile phone charging.

This technology will help provide better service availability for passengers and allow more time collecting fares for taxi drivers. Charging the taxi wirelessly through short bursts will also help reduce range anxiety and optimize battery usage.

The convenience of wireless charging makes electric vehicles a more desirable proposition for taxi drivers, while also improving local air quality, reducing noise pollution and cutting carbon emissions across towns and cities.

The livery will be on the taxis for the duration of the trial, which is due to complete by March 2022.

“Investment in research and development is key to our mission of putting the UK at the forefront of the design, manufacture and use of zero emission vehicles,” says Abdul Chowdhury, head of innovation, Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV). “By supporting these innovative technologies, we are helping to deliver our road transport decarbonization goals, while anchoring economic activity across the UK. The WiCET project is part of our diverse innovation program looking to address the challenges associated with the transition to zero emission vehicles. Wireless charging technology has clear commercial and consumer experience opportunities but most importantly could help address some accessibility challenges associated with charging an EV.”

“It’s exciting to see the vehicles with their new, eye-catching livery,” says councillor Sally Longford, portfolio holder for energy and environment at Nottingham City Council. “While we’re proud that Nottingham’s taxi fleet already boasts a large number of electric taxis, wireless charging is the next step to make them even more convenient and easier for drivers to use – and no need for cables on our taxi ranks. Making our taxis cleaner will help to improve air quality in the city, and help us reach our goal of becoming the UK’s first carbon neutral city by 2028. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from passengers about how much quieter and pleasant the electric taxis are. I’m looking forward to seeing this new technology trialled on our streets.”

“Getting these WiCET taxis on the road is great news for taxi drivers and the people of Nottingham, and it is an important first step in demonstrating the technology works in the real world,” says Matthew Knight, hardware trials & data integration lead at Cenex. “A key part of transitioning to zero emission electric vehicles is making charging easy and convenient for all users; this wireless charging solution will enable taxi drivers to spend more time on the road rather than waiting to top up their vehicle. The striking wrap designs will stand out on the Nottingham roads, and we hope anyone who sees them will be interested in learning more about the project and the technology.”

“We are delighted to be part of this pioneering project, helping to showcase the suitability of wireless charging technology for a fleet of taxis,” says Richie Frost, founder and CEO of Sprint Power. “Our engineering team has been busy developing a custom interface module and software, together with a bespoke integration kit for each vehicle, allowing the electric taxis to be retrofitted with wireless charging capabilities. We firmly believe this exciting project not only demonstrates Sprint Power’s technical and engineering capabilities, but underscores the importance wireless charging technology will play as the shift to sustainable mobility gathers momentum.”

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Lauren is acting associate editor for Traffic Technology International and freelance journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum two busy little girls. She is always in demand!