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Faster, further, far more convenient: our flagship charging parks

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In just 20 minutes, 52 ultra-fast HPC points supply drivers with enough power for a range of up to 400 kilometers. (Source: EnBW / Photographer: Endre Dulic)

As market leader, EnBW already operates the biggest quick-charging network in Germany and is continually expanding it. The European EnBW HyperNetwork currently has 400,000 charging points for electric car drivers. The focus here is on high-power charging (HPC) with charging capacity of up to 300 kW. Depending on the type of vehicle, this means new energy for a range of 100 km in just five minutes, and 400 km in 20 minutes. At our flagship charging parks, the so-called HyperHubs, like the ones in Unterhaching or Kamen, where 52 electric cars can be simultaneously charged ultra-quickly at HPC points, we are already demonstrating how nice a charging stop can be: Besides ultra-fast charging, the HyperHubs have solar roofs to protect users from the elements, which also supply the charging parks with the solar energy they produce. In addition, they give electric car drivers access to public Wi-Fi and provide a feeling of security during charging stops thanks to lighting and video surveillance.

The future has a space in the EnBW parking garage: autonomous driving, inductive charging

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In the EnBW parking garage at EnBW City, Porsche, Toyota, the development service provider Brusa and EnBW are testing the potential of inductive charging of electric vehicles.

It sounds like a scene from a science fiction movie: A driverless car drives into a parking lot, where it recharges in a contactless process via the inductive base plate. As soon as it is fully charged, it drives away, parks in a regular spot and makes space for the next self-driving car, which is inductively charged via the base plate ... sound too crazy? Ronald Opoku, who is overseeing the EFILS 11 project on the EnBW side, and his colleagues certainly do not give the impression of being mad, and the scene of the test setup in the parking garage at EnBW City could not be more real.

What exactly is being tested here? The setup consists of two charging plates and various test vehicles and is designed to acquaint people with the technology used for the inductive charging of electric cars at an early stage and build up knowledge. With inductive charging, the energy is transferred via an electromagnetic field. Ronald Opoku explains: “The aim is to make charging easier and more convenient when on the move, but also at home.” The project partners – besides EnBW, which is contributing its expertise as an operator of charging infrastructure – include Porsche, Toyota Gazoo Racing and the system manufacturer Brusa Elektronik. Their hope is that it will lower the inhibition threshold for switching to e-mobility. The project is expected to run until May 2023.

And the self-driving and -charging car? “Automated valet parking and charging” is actually a realistic option: “In the future, we want to combine autonomous and automated vehicles with the inductive charging technology,” says Ronald Opoku. “We are working on enabling multiple manufacturers to use the technology so that we can eventually integrate inductive charging technology into our infrastructure projects and mobility concepts.”

Full charging at full speed: inductive charging of e-buses

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Installing inductive coils beneath the road surface. (Source: EnBW)

In recent years, we have become accustomed to charging vehicles instead of filling them up with fuel. However, charging during the journey is something new – although in Balingen it will soon become a reality: During the garden show being held here in summer 2023, there will be a shuttle bus whose battery will charge while it is driving.

The process is known as “dynamic wireless power transfer”, or DWPT for short. How exactly does it work? The test track is a roughly 400-meter-long section built between the parking lot on the exhibition grounds and the town hall bus stop. This is where magnetic coils are embedded beneath the road surface. When the bus approaches this location, high-frequency magnetic fields are generated there. These magnetic fields induce an electric current in receiver coils on the vehicle floor of the bus, with which the battery is charged. Inductive stops are also set to be installed at both termini on the route – the exhibition grounds and the town hall.

The project partners – Electreon Germany, EnBW, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technologie (KIT) and Stadtwerke Balingen – want to prove it can work in practice. The entire project is being run under the aegis of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and goes by the name of ELINA, derived from the German phrase “Einsatz dynamischer Ladeinfrastruktur im ÖPNV” (which roughly translates as “The use of dynamic charging infrastructure on public transport”). If the results prove promising, the project is set to be extended to regular services.

Another test project in Karlsruhe works in a similar way: Here, an inductively charged works bus is set to connect EnBW’s new training center in the port of Karlsruhe to the local public transport network.

Automated conductive charging – the better idea?

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The electric vehicle parks over the charging plate. The connector lowers from the underbody of the vehicle and physically connects to the charging plate. (Source: Easelink)

Quick charging is well known, inductive charging is on everyone’s lips and is seen as a technology for the future – but what exactly is conductive charging?

With conductive charging, energy is transferred via physically connected conductive materials. Charging via a plug is thus also a form of conductive charging. Can the process also be automated? Yes, in concrete terms, it works like this: The electric vehicle parks over a charging plate embedded in the ground. The connector, a kind of charging nozzle, lowers from the underbody of the vehicle, physically connecting to the charging plate – the battery is then charged. It may sound fascinating, but what exactly is the advantage over other charging options?

If you ask Hermann Stockinger, the founder of the Austrian high-tech company Easelink, in which EnBW New Ventures has been investing since 2022, the advantages are clear: “It is more efficient, it is cheaper and it does not create any electromagnetic field, from which humans need protection in the form of complex technology.” And not forgetting: The new technology saves the hassle of having to manually plug in and unplug the charging cable. Stockinger believes that a large part of the parking time will be used for charging in the future. The big advantage here is that if the vehicles are connected to the grid for longer, then grid-friendly charging becomes the rule.