New tech charges EVs with no wire
I have lived in Texas all my life and here in the largest state in the contiguous US we don't really have a big issue with smog in most parts. Things are spread out; we all tend to drive longer distances because most of the state is rural. That means for many an electric vehicle probably won't cut it. For the folks that rarely drive or live in a larger city where they only drive a short distance each day, an EV might be appealing. There are concerns though that EVs bring other than simply figuring out if you can live with a 100 mile or less driving range on a daily basis.
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Driving distance seems to get most of the headlines when talking about an EV, but other concerns are equally as important with things like resale value, what to do when the battery packs no longer hold the charge they were designed to hold, and where you will charge the vehicle at the end of the day. The battery packs are a big thing since most folks seem to think five years from now is an eternity. If the battery pack inside the car costs $10,000 and you plan to keep the car for seven years, but after five years you can only drive half the distance the batteries were good for originally what are you going to do? Buyers of electric golf carts have faced this issue for a long time when batteries can often cost more than people are willing to spend.
The time it takes to charge a battery is another big issue with EVs today. Most need at least eight hours for a full charge. That is overnight for the most part at home since you are unlikely to be able to plug in at work or the store in most cities. What if you drove all day and then in the middle of the night when your car has only 20 miles of driving range something happens and you need to go somewhere quickly? The big issue for me that most people overlook is simply the fact that humans are a forgetful lot.
How many times have you forgotten to fill your car up with gas the night before work or school? My wife does that at least once per month. You can limp to the gas station up the road and fill up, you may be a bit late, but you will generally get there. If you run out of gas between the house and the station, you can get someone to bring you some gas in a can to get you the rest of the way. This is not the case in an EV. Forget to plug in the night before and you will need hours to get your car going and another ride to work. Run out of power on the way and you need a tow truck back home.
A company called HaloIPT has unveiled a new solution for forgetting to plug an EV in that should be showing off in demos by 2012. The solution uses a cool inductive power transfer technique that will charge an EV simply by parking the car over the transfer plate. That means you won’t have to remember to plug the car in. All you will need to do is park the car correctly.
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The HaloIPT system can shoot power wirelessly across a gap of 400mm to recharge the batteries. The downside of most tech of this sort is that the amount of power making it to the batteries is less than you get front a cord. That means recharge times will be longer. Still, forgetting to plug in is a bigger worry for me than driving range on most vehicles. I could drive for a few days on the 100-mile range Nissan promises for the Leaf. HaloIPT foresees a future where the tech is integrated into the road surface for EV driving that is unlimited. I say that is a distant future, but I can see a slight chance of it happening some day. I think it will be much more likely that we will have batteries that can recharge very quickly and have longer driving distances and that vision of electrified roads will be moot.