ZTE to expand wireless charging facilities for Tesla-like electric buses across China

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 April, 2015, 11:48am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 12:02pm

Telecoms giant ZTE Corp is about to launch a wireless charging service for electric buses in several mainland cities, a step towards becoming a key player in the growing market of alternative-fuel vehicles.

Academus Tian, vice-president of ZTE's New Energy division, said its technology would go into operation for 10 bus routes in June, with the transport companies paying for the service.

Tian declined to specify which cities would receive the service or the price the companies would pay, but ZTE already had wireless charging stations in seven mainland cities, including Chengdu in Sichuan , Kunming in Yunnan and Shenzhen.

The company planned to invest 3.5 billion yuan (HK$4.4 billion) in the technology within two years, local media reported earlier this year, although Tian cautioned that the amount was "not fixed".

The system involves an energy transmission module, buried underground, and a reception module installed on the vehicle. The stations can be built at bus terminals or car parks.

The mainland government is making a concerted push towards increasing reliance on "green" vehicles, with the transport ministry announcing last month that officials aimed to add 200,000 buses and 100,000 taxis powered by alternative fuels by 2020.

With an eye on that growing market, Tian said ZTE hoped to work with vehicle makers to ensure 30 per cent of new electric buses and vans would be equipped with wireless-charging abilities in the next two years, most of them using the company's technology. "We have signed agreements with over a dozen car makers and more [are coming]," Tian said.

One hurdle the market faces is the relative scarcity of charging stations. US-based Tesla struck a deal with China Unicom to build 400 charging stations in more than 100 mainland cities, but Tesla's Chinese customers have complained the coverage is not enough.

ZTE faces the additional challenge of bringing wireless charging costs in line with traditional systems. It's now twice as expensive. "But the cost of wireless charging would [be] cut sharply if it attracts a large quantity of users," Tian said.