By Eric Cohen, Marketing Manager
Meet Steve Ganem, WiTricity’s VP of Engineering. Steve leads the electric vehicle wireless charging product development team at WiTricity, and is also responsible for the customer applications team, which spans support, professional services, and training. If you want to know what’s going on behind the scenes at WiTricity, he’s the one you want to talk to. So I did!
You have an inside look at what goes on behind the curtain given your role. Or, as others might say, you know the “secret sauce.” What is it that makes WiTricity’s IP and products so unique?
As pioneers in wireless electricity – and in particular, wireless charging – we have the foundational expertise and deep understanding of the complexities involved in this technology. Our people – with their capabilities, diverse technical skillsets, and many years of domain experience – are building this technology for the new world. As a result, we understand we must go beyond just magnetic resonance and power transfer, to build a product with a user experience second to none, while ensuring it meets various safety and regulatory requirements from UL, FCC, and CE. We understand the importance of energy management and are building that inside our secure cloud-enabled chargers – giving users the control they want, as well as providing communication with electricity suppliers to effectively manage power delivery, as well as adapt to changes required to keep up with the increased demand from electric vehicles.
What about the people “making the sauce”? What can you tell us about your team of engineers?
First off, they’re dedicated to our mission of making wireless charging a reality in the market. They’re a gifted group of engineers with diverse skills in software, electrical, mechanical, quality, and customer applications. And they believe in teamwork, which is critical as we have a team distributed with customers around the globe. I’ve never worked with a team that’s had a stronger sense of purpose. They fully understand we’re trying to get our technology off the ground and into the market with a positive and meaningful user experience we can all be proud of.
You’ve been at WiTricity for a long time. How many years have you been here and what keeps you motivated?
I began in 2010 but, looking back, it doesn’t seem like 11 years. Why? I’m excited about what I do.
The team keeps me motivated – up, down, and across the organization. I’ve worked for many companies, but none have been like this. They’re a great group of people who share a common purpose and understand that what we’re doing is very important to people’s lives. We feel we are helping to create a better world through increased adoption of electric vehicles by using our much-improved charging experience, including that it is a must-have with the advancements in autonomous driving.
People ask if I’m ready to move on and the simple answer is, “Hell no!” We’re on the cusp of breaking through. And since we’re not done, I’m not done. It’s a journey. Until we’ve accomplished market adoption and large numbers of customers and users, I won’t be done. That’s what keeps me motivated.
Why is now the right time for wireless charging for EVs?
There were 11 million EVs on the road at the end of 2020. That number is expected to rise to 145 million globally by 2030. That’s why! Carmakers and governments are now understanding the importance of moving quickly and, as a result, there’s an increased awareness – and need for – wireless charging. After many years of contributions from WiTricity and other companies, worldwide standards for wireless charging of EVs now exist. This allows for a split supply chain where OEMs and fleets need only engineer a “vehicle receiver” and WiTricity can implement the wireless charger.
What should automakers, truck OEMs, and consumers expect to see from WiTricity in the next few years?
They’ll see a company that completely drives the wireless charging experience. This includes the hardware product design, as well as the cloud connectivity and user experience. They will also see a company with deep experience in helping vehicle OEMs and fleets implement wireless charging. We want charging to be an activity that people don’t need to think about. Simply drive, park, and walk away.
For those who want to know more, or have more control over charging, we will also deliver a user experience via mobile app and web operator portal that allows them full control, including reservations, schedule for lowest cost charging, notifications, and overall health monitoring of charging. In addition, as vehicles become enabled with bi-directional charging, WiTricity will be there to handle wireless energy transfer from the vehicle back to the grid. Through our product design, cloud, and user experience, customers will see WiTricity no longer as just an IP company, but as a comprehensive partner that adds tremendous expertise and value to the overall EV experience.
What do you see as the impact of wireless charging on our environment and our society?
The impact is far-reaching. Today’s EV world is still dominated by early adopters who don’t mind plugging in. In fact, they might even like it! However, to appeal to the broader market, the EV charging experience must improve. Many people find the hassle of cords and remembering to plug in a non-starter for an EV purchase. We are helping to overcome that.
Beyond that is the fact that autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles and fleets need the control and efficiency of seamless wireless charging to ensure the maximum benefit of these important vehicle technology features. Last, but not least, another benefit of wireless charging is that it’s cleaner. Living through the pandemic has made all of us keenly aware of the surfaces we touch – and that other people touch, too.
With wireless charging set to upend the existing antiquated charging experience, I know it will improve the adoption of electric vehicles. And that’s something we’ll all be happy about.