Why the Underbody Charger could be the e-charging station of the future

The fact that electric vehicles are too expensive, take too long to charge, can’t drive far enough, or that a cable always has to be touched to charge them are arguments that still keep many customers from buying an electric car. But the development in terms of e-mobility is progressing rapidly.

Our expert, Ahmad Kamar, states:

Charging an e-vehicle will become as easy as refuelling.

Since 2018, the product manager has been driving the development of the prototype of an autonomous fast charging system for electric vehicles.

Charging electric vehicles autonomously
The Underbody Charger allows for automatic recharging in seconds with up to 1 MW of power transfer

Underbody Solution Charges within a Few Minutes

The so-called Underbody Charger is designed to allow efficient, safe and convenient charging of various vehicle types in just a few minutes. This is made possible by a Smart Charging system that can be retracted into the road surface, a docking module installed in the vehicle floor, and extremely high power transmission. This means that the automatic charging process can be shortened to just a few minutes, even when the batteries are completely empty, and can be easily integrated into the everyday use of the vehicles. The system could also be used in one’s own garage, where it would enable safe and automatic charging. No need to touch cables!

Watch this video to see how the Schunk Underbody Charger works.

Ahmad Kamar Answers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About This Innovation:

How long does it take to charge a car with the Underbody Charger?
Ahmad Kamar: Our goal is that with our underbody solution, an electric vehicle with a 100 kWh battery can be charged from 20 percent to 80 percent in less than 10 minutes.

What impact does fast charging have on the life of the car battery?
Ahmad Kamar: Our charging system is designed for the next generation of batteries. With today’s battery technology, fast charging can actually damage batteries after a few years – assuming you use this type of charging exclusively.

For the future battery generation, however, Fast Charging will be the standard – and it is exactly for this battery technology of the future, which can be charged at a rate of 2, 3 or 4C, that the Underbody Charger is designed.

Do you have to allow for a break between two charging cycles?
Ahmad Kamar: No, our system is designed to charge continuously and serve one vehicle at a time. This will also be the requirement in the future. For example, if there is a direct payment option at the charging station, the driver can continue driving immediately after charging and release the charging station for the next vehicle.

What is the weight of the vehicle-side hardware?
Ahmad Kamar: For our series product, the weight will be two to three kilograms.

Are you also planning to develop inductive, contactless energy transmission?
Ahmad Kamar: No, we are concentrating on conductive charging. There are three reasons for this:

  • Conductive charging is our core competence. We have over 100 years of experience in this field.
  • Charging power: we want to enable high-power charging with our system. This is not possible with inductive charging technologies or is very complicated and costly. The reason: Inductive charging requires a high power converter from AC to DC. Large and expensive components such as these are not desired by OEMs and are therefore of no interest to us.
  • Charging efficiency: with inductive charging, a charging efficiency of 93 percent is only achieved in the very best case. That is a high line loss and therefore not economical.

What is the current project status?
Ahmad Kamar: We demonstrated our prototype Underbody Charger as part of the first pilot projects for autonomous driving and charging (Aula). Now, after extensive testing, we are in the process of further developing our initial concept. Currently, we are participating with three other partners in the Mega-Laden research project, where we are testing our product with e-truck fleets in a logistics center. Our goal is to develop a fully functioning prototype by the end of 2021.

Book Your Personal 1to1 Session

Book an appointment with our expert Ahmad Kamar now and learn even more about the Underbody Charger.

This article was originally published by Schunk.


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