Technology that will allow electric cars to top up their charge on the move is being readied for production in the next decade.
The ‘electric road of the future’ could be a reality sooner, but car makers will need to design the next generation of electric vehicles (EVs) to incorporate induction charging pads into their technical make-up. Road infrastructure companies, meanwhile, will need to install multiple numbers of pads under road surfaces to make the idea a reality.
“Maybe ten years is a good timescale for this technology,” said Virginie Maillard, a senior Renault EV engineer. “We have to design cars and the road network to accept it.”
The third-generation Renault Zoe, for example, might be expected to hit the market in the mid-2020s, and Renault has a chance to futureproof the design for induction charging.
Induction charging technology is currently being investigated at a purposebuilt test track near Paris using Renault Kangoo ZE vans and Qualcomm Halo wireless induction charging equipment. Qualcomm, a huge US technology company, is better known as the designer of mobile phone chips.
Qualcomm will develop the technology and sell it as a licence to a tier one supplier, which will make it a production reality. Each unit sold will earn Qualcomm a royalty.
The charging system works using the principle of induced currents – the same technique that electric toothbrush chargers deploy.
An electrically live coil is buried under the road, and when a car equipped with another coil passes over it, it induces a current in the car’s coil. This feeds into the EV’s battery and keeps it topped up.