Given that we seem to be living in an increasing wireless world (anybody remember TV remotes with cords?) it seems only natural that one of the next steps is for EV car charging to go wireless.
We’ve already had a glimpse of this, notable at this year’s New York Auto Show, where Infiniti’s LE concept incorporated such a system, which consists of two coils (one mounted in the vehicle, the other in a pad on the garage floor) which create a magnetic field that stimulates the flow of electric current from the floor to the car).
Now, a North Carolina startup named Evatran is hoping to introduce such a system and indeed, has generated enough interest that a number of different organizations, including the likes of Google, Hertz Rent-A-Car, Duke Energy and Clemson University, are planning to test it later this year.
In addition, Sears has also said that it has signed on to be the official installer of Evatran’s new system at home (the car portion will be handled by authorized auto dealers).
In Raleigh, North Carolina, plans are also underway to install cordless charging stations around the city to test the new system, though considering it’s currently designed to work only with the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF, the City of Raleigh will be conducting tests using modified Toyota Prius Plug-In models, since it hasn’t procured any Volts or LEAFs… yet.
Charlotte, N.C. based Duke Energy is planning to begin trials of the wireless system with an employ’s Chevy Volt next month. Like many aspects of the auto industry, the concept of wireless charging is actually nothing new; induction technology that creates magnetic fields as been with us for over a century and is widely used in many different areas, such as electric tooth brushes and kitchen devices, as well as microphones and even generators. In fact, the Dodge Dart will be the first car to be capable of charging mobile devices wirelessly.
While the idea might seem simple and clearly the way forward because it eliminates the physical awkwardness of cords and reduces the risk of danger (no worrying about plugging or unplugging your car while its raining), there are still some obstacles.
The system can only currently be retrofitted to existing vehicles (though Evatran is reportedly working on proposals for factory installations), In addition it uses more energy than cord based setups and costs around 10 cents more to charge a vehicle (Evatran’s R&D director Steve Raedy pegs the price at $1.45 versus $1.35 for a plug-in device).
Despite this and reported retail price of under $3,000 (still twice the price of many conventional re-chargers), Evatran’s system appears to have a lot of potential; you might say it’s a true 21st century “Flash of Genius.”
[Source: Detroit News]