Plug-free power: Wireless charging may be the next big thing for electric vehicles

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What’s the secret to getting people to embrace any new technology? You make it easier to use and more cost-effective. That’s exactly what researchers are striving for with the development of wireless charging technology for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). The ability to charge a PEV without the need for cables or any other kind of physical connection could make an already green and exciting technology even more appealing to American drivers.

Some smartphones can already power up through inductive charging – also known as wireless power transfer. Wireless charging would allow any electric vehicle outfitted with a receiving coil to charge by simply parking on a pad outfitted with a charging coil. The energy transfers wirelessly—no cables, cords, plugs or connections of any kind needed!

It’s easy to see how wireless charging could make it even more convenient to use and charge your electric vehicle. Researchers say it takes about as long to charge a vehicle wirelessly as it would by plugging it in. Parking-assist systems could make the process smoother by automatically positioning vehicles on charging pads quickly and accurately.

And the next level in the technology could be even more efficient; researchers are working on systems that would allow vehicles to charge wirelessly while in motion. For example, public buses could charge in short bursts every time they pause for passengers—provided the buses and bus stops are outfitted with the technology.

Electric vehicles are already a great idea, and one more people are embracing. Green Car Reports says Americans bought 96,000 PEVs in 2013, and 16 different PEV models are currently on the market. Although electric vehicles may cost more than comparable gas-powered models, the lifetime cost savings and impact on the environment are significant. The U.S. Department of Energy says PEVs produce 30% fewer lifecycle greenhouse gases than traditional gas-powered vehicles and generally cost less to power because of the lower cost of electricity compared to gasoline or diesel fuel. What’s more, PEVs don’t require some maintenance tasks that owners of gas-powered vehicles are used to paying for every few months, like oil and filter changes.

While wireless charging technology isn’t yet ready for widespread use, researchers are working hard to make it a reality. If you’ve been thinking about buying a PEV, maybe the evolution of wireless charging will convince you to take the plunge. And if you already drive an electric vehicle, here’s one more exciting bit of news: you can retrofit your PEV with wireless charging technology.

1 comments
webbrowan
webbrowan

It's just a matter of time I think! Considering how deep they are digging into their finances to make electric and hybrid cars work, it's not surprising that they will want to make the whole fleet of eco-vehicles as enticing as possible. We'll have the cars flying next and then all those slow adopters will really regret not switching early!