Market Size: Wireless Charging for Municipal Bus Fleets

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Market Size: Wireless Charging for Municipal Bus Fleets

Two of the key barriers impeding the adoption of wireless charging by municipal transit agencies for their electric buses fleet include high equipment and installation cost, and technical challenges, particularly, the efficiency of charging. Two of the major players in the United States electric bus wireless charging space include Momentum Dynamic and WAVE. Additional details on the barriers and major players have been provided below.

Barriers to Wireless (Inductive) Charging

Infrastructure Cost

  • Wireless technology for e-bus charging is still in the nascent stage and yet to be proven on a commercial scale. Consequently, it is expensive to install one, with estimates putting the cost of installation at a bus stop at $400,000.
  • In addition to the cost of equipment, each bus also has to be fitted with plates to facilitate charging. These plates cost about $70,000 per bus.
  • Considering the high upfront capital investments required, wireless charging is therefore not feasible for routes passed by only a few buses. Additionally, for it to be the only charging option used, the technology has to be installed in multiple places to cover most of the route, especially if it is intended not to disrupt the bus schedules. This, in turn, increases the initial costs of adopting wireless charging for electric buses.
  • Already, these transit agencies are "battling tight capital budgets," and can explain their reluctance to choose the most expensive charging option when electric buses already cost $150,000 to $200,000 on the average more than diesel buses.
  • One of the ways transit agencies are navigating the high cost is by entering into partnerships to minimize their cost and risk pressures. For example, Indygo, Indianapolis’ public transport system partnered with BYD, a Chinese auto and bus maker and Momentum Dynamics to install three high-powered wireless inductors that will deliver 300kW charging to a fleet of 22 electric buses.
  • In another example, Link Transit, the public transit agency of Chelan and Douglas counties in Washington State extended its partnership with Momentum Dynamic.

Technical Challenges

  • Another set of challenges or barriers with the adoption of wireless charging for electric buses are technical challenges, in particular, the efficiency of charging. One source puts the charging efficiency of wireless charging at "70% efficient meaning roughly 30% of the energy is lost during the charging process," while another source puts it at between 85% to 90% for stationary wireless power transfer and 72% to 83% for dynamic wireless power transfer.
  • This coupled with the unreliability and reduced efficiencies of batteries in extreme heat and cold further exacerbates this challenge. As the Department of Transportation put it "other challenges to commercial WPT deployment yet to be addressed include ensuring the efficiency, reliability, and durability of power transfer under all weather conditions, including icing, snow (with plowing), mud, flooding, and temperature extremes."
  • Additionally, there are other challenges such as "recognition of fast-moving wireless power transfer electric vehicles approaching charging lanes and real-time computation of electricity costs billed to the electric vehicle drivers."
  • These technical challenges may explain why Link Transit extended its wireless charging agreement with Momentum Dynamics for five-year period through which the latter would "provide proof of concept for the wirelessly charged electric vehicle bus fleet."

Major Players

Momentum Dynamics

  • In 2020, Link Transit and Momentum Dynamics agreed to an extension of their wireless charging partnership that will see the latter provide 3 new on-route charging stations, each capable of delivering 300kW. This is a followup after the partnership delivered the United States' first 200 kW wireless charging system in 2018. Since the commission of the 2018 project, the wireless charging port has powered 49,500 miles distance covered Link Transit's electric bus fleet.
  • Announced in 2019, Momentum Dynamics in partnership with BYD and Indygo, Indianapolis’ public transport system, to deliver "what is thought to be the largest wireless vehicle charging network to date." The project will include "three high-powered, wireless inductors will be installed to deliver 300kW charging a 33-strong electric bus fleet, allowing 24 hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week operation."
  • In another project Momentum Dynamics partnered with the City of Oslo and Fortum, a clean energy company, to install wireless charging infrastructure for the city's taxis. The project will allow charging up to 75 kW.

Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification (WAVE)

  • Website: Link Here
  • Headquarter Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Estimated Revenue: $4 million
  • In 2018, WAVE worked with Long Beach Transit (LBT) to install a 50 kW wireless charging station that would service the transit agency's fleet of BYD 40-foot transit buses. The project was to serve as a "pilot program that Long Beach Transit will monitor over the next year to assess whether charging stations should or could be expanded beyond the convention center." The overall cost of the project was $1.6 million.
  • In 2018, WAVE started deploying multiple 250 kW wireless chargers that will power Antelope Valley Transit Authority's (AVTA) BYD K11 and K9 electric buses. For the project, WAVE had to complete a full OEM integration with BYD. Additionally, WAVE "solidified a product platform with scalability up to a megawatt (MW) to accommodate future applications that are even more demanding."
  • Outside of electric buses, WAVE has also provided wireless charging infrastructure to support for port vehicles. In one example, the company partnered with Hyster-Yale Group, a forklift manufacturer, "for the first-ever demonstration of an all-electric container handler at Port of Los Angeles' APM Terminal, which is the largest terminal operator at the Port of Los Angeles." In another example, the company was selected by the Department of Energy for deployment for the electric drayage trucks at the Port of Los Angeles, in an $8.4 million deal.

Research Strategy

To select the major players in the United States electric bus wireless charging space we selected companies that have worked on a few wireless charging infrastructure installations in the United States. Given that there are very few electric buses in the United States — about 650 — coupled with the commercialization of wireless technology still in its nascent stage, the number of companies with wireless charging project under their belt are few and far between. From our scan of the news, we found Momentum Dynamic and WAVE as constant fixtures in the wireless charging discussions, especially as it concerns electric buses.