Electric vehicle technology today took a step towards greater convenience, with the launch of the Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging trial.
Operated by wireless technology firm Qualcomm, the trial involves the use of the company’s induction charging system, which eliminates the need for a physical connection between the car and power source.
By creating a magnetic field using an induction loop in a pad installed in the floor, electric current can be sent safely and efficiently to an opposing pad connected to a vehicle’s battery.
The system is claimed to be no slower and only marginally less efficient than using a physical connection. It is not the first time the technology has been seen, as it has also been used for smartphones and electric toothbrushes, as well as used on a number of prototype cars, including the Rolls-Royce Phantom EE.
Qualcomm hopes the increase in convenience will tip electric vehicle uptake towards a critical mass, where it will see the volumes needed to make the venture a success.
The two-year scheme will assess the feasibility and the commercial viability of a national rollout.
In the first phase, privately run test vehicles will operate in the capital. These will be Delta E4 Coupés – designed by Silverstone-based motorsport outfit Delta – specially fitted with the wireless induction technology.
In 2013, Renault will join the scheme with its Fluence saloon. The project is of particular importance to the French manufacturer, which has invested heavily in electric drive.
“Renault’s eggs are all in the electric basket, and wireless charging is the key to ensure it is a success. These trials are very important, as they will allow us to gauge buying and usage habits in the future,” said Renault spokesman Simon Tibbett.
Renault is viewing wireless charging as a complementary option to tethered charging and the battery swapping facility it currently offers. It will be joined by minicab firm Addison Lee, which will introduce a number of EV taxis to the streets of the capital in 2014.
Chargemaster, the company behind the installation and operation of the current ‘POLAR’ network of conventional tethered charging posts, is to install wireless pads at six sites in and around London. It is hoping that with sufficient demand it will be able to install wireless charge points at each of its 4,000 sites, for no additional cost over conventional charging posts: around £3,000, with a domestic outlet projected to cost around £700.
Qualcomm’s ultimate aim is to introduce dynamic charging, in which the induction circuits are built into stretches of road, allowing for charging on the move, without the need for a physical connection.
The company insist that this is feasible today, but there are significant infrastructure and regulatory barriers to negotiate before. As such, don’t expect to see dynamic charging any time in the near future.