Will electric cars soon charge while driving?

Published by on 12.27.2019 - 2 min

Dynamic induction charging gives us a glimpse of a future where the road could supply electricity to the vehicles driving on it. This way the driver would have an electric car with the ability to charge while driving, cutting down the need for high-capacity batteries and charging stations.

What if the best way to lengthen the range of electric cars was to address the issue of charging on highway infrastructures? Right now, wireless induction charging technology allows us to think very seriously about creating roads that are able to charge an electric vehicle while it’s being driven.

Electric cars that charge while being driven: how does it work?

Induction charging consists of transferring energy from one electric coil (wound-up cable) to another via an electromagnetic field. Applied to automobiles, it makes it possible to charge the battery of an electric car by parking it over a special charging pad. The only prerequisite: the car must have a “receptor coil” installed horizontally onto the chassis to receive the energy sent by the “emitter coil” on the ground.

Dynamic induction charging works according to the same principle, only with a moving car. In this setup the car is driven over a series of emitter coils set into the road. Each time it passes over a coil, it receives electricity for a fraction of a second.

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Induction routes already being tested

Experiments run as part of the European FABRIC project have led to the creation of an induction route in Satory, Greater Paris region (France), on which Renault ran two Kangoo Z.E. vehicles compatible with dynamic wireless recharging. This experiment showed that it was possible to deliver a charge of around 20 kW to a vehicle being driven at 100 km/h.

By 2022 the island of Gotland in Sweden, thanks to Israeli start-up ElectReon, will be home to an induction route spanning around 1.6 km. It will supply electricity to electric buses and trucks shuttling between the airport and the center of Visby, the island’s capital. This way, local transportation authorities hope to significantly cut down the CO2 emissions related to these regular trips.

The challenges involved in charging while driving

If confirmed to be feasible, dynamic induction charging still poses a lot of challenges, especially because its implementation depends on close collaboration between several parties in terms of highway infrastructures, the electricity grid and the automotive world.

With regards to technical aspects, it also requires rethinking the size of charging devices, how they are to be financed and built into the road, and the specific way the power transfer is to work.

To sustainably change the energy setup of electric vehicles and reduce dependence on batteries, dynamic induction charging must be able to be shared by the masses, that is, be able to charge vehicles with very different needs. The trail is yet to be blazed!

Copyrights : Jean-Brice Lemal

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