Electronic vehicles are riding the crest of the green transportation wave, and wireless EV charging is among the more exciting associated technologies. The convenience of abandoning wires and plugs is obvious, but some critics have questioned how efficient wireless charging can be. According to the Detroit Free Press, however, a Morrisville, N.C., start-up called Evatran may have some answers.
Evatran wants to cut the cord
Evatran’s theory states that having to deal with dirty or rain-soaked cables will keep many people from wanting to deal with an electric vehicle. Wireless EV charging will eliminate the fuss and the mess. Evatran’s approach requires that an electronic vehicle be equipped with the company’s device. Then, the driver parks the EV over a recharging pad mounted on the ground, and recharging happens, sans wires and plugs.
“Fundamentally, what we’re selling here is convenience,” said Evatran co-founder and COO Rebecca Hough. “The cord gets really dirty. People run over the cord. And nobody wants to be using a cord in a rainstorm.”
Big names join the Evatran parade
In anticipation of 2,000 Evatran units being sold in 2012, several important groups have taken the company’s brand of wireless EV charging for a test drive. Testers include Duke Energy, Google, Clemson University, Hertz Rent-A-Car and several others. Raleigh, N.C., officials are in talks with Evatran to install municipal wireless EV charging stations.
Duke Energy of Charlotte, N.C., plans to test an Evatran “Plugless Power” at the home of one of its employees, who owns a Chevrolet Volt. Currently, Evatran’s technology will work on the Volt and Nissan Leaf.
“We don’t want to sit back and be surprised by new technologies that are coming down the pike,” said Duke spokeswoman Paige Layne. “The more we are prepared for new equipment that comes into use, the more we’ll be prepared to keep the lights on.”
Sears has signed on to be an authorized nationwide installer of the wireless charging pad. In-car adapters must be installed by auto dealers, notes the Free Press.
The naysayers nay
Jim Poch, executive director of Plug-In Hybrid Coalition of the Carolinas, questions whether wireless EV charging is necessary. He recognizes that while some consumers will be willing to pay extra for the convenience, that doesn’t mean there’s a huge need for the wireless technology.
“I think it’s self-serving and incorrect to talk about the huge need for this,” Poch said. “I don’t see it as being a barrier to someone purchasing an electric car.”
Wireless EV charging via induction
Using technology similar to that which appears in cell phone cradles, Evatran’s wireless EV charging process uses the principle of induction, where magnetic fields are created in order to transfer charge. However, the gap between charging unit and device with something like a cell phone charger is infinitesimal. Some critics doubt whether the six-inch gap in the Evatran system, between the floor charger plate and the in-car receiver, is small enough to transfer a sufficient charge in a reasonable amount of time.
Retailing for less than $3,000
Not including installation costs, Evatran wireless EV charging devices are expected to retail for less than $3,000. According to Evatran research and development director Steve Raedy, wireless EV charging will cost approximately $0.10 more per charge than a traditional plug-in charger.