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December 13, 2011

A Wireless Plan for Electric Vehicles?

Wireless electric car chargingEveryone's going wireless, even electric vehicles!

EV charging manufacturers are developing wireless designs for the Nissan Leaf, an electric Mercedes, and the Infiniti -- offering a glimpse into what the future may hold for EV innovation and design.

The wireless concept borrows from the same technology as a wireless iPhone charger, "only on a larger scale," reports Wired. "Both the car battery and power supply are connected to charging coils that, when magnetically tuned to each other, complete a circuit and charge the car." Imagine a charging pad in your driveway or in a parking spot on the side of the road. All you have to do is roll your car over it and park. When you return, your car will be charged. (Click here for a video demonstration.)

It's hard to say when wireless will be a normal feature for everyday EV drivers. Manufacturers concede that the current wireless charger designed for the Leaf performs at about 80 to 90 percent the efficiency of a typical plug-in charging chord. But developers hope that a debut of wireless charging for the 2014 Leaf will lead to technological advances that will allow vehicles to charge while being driven

That's what one wireless charging company in Massachusetts is trying to do for public transportation. OLEV Technologies, a "wireless electric power transfer technology" company earlier this month announced a partnership with the city of McAllen, Texas that will introduce electric buses that receive a wireless charge while on the road and at bus stops -- kind of like this "autotram" in Germany that charges while idling -- to the city's fleet. OLEV's pilot project got the green light after landing a grant worth $1.9 million from the Federal Transportation Administration.

OLEV's endeavor will include the retrofitting of three diesel buses. Scheduled for completion in 2013, project managers expect that the city will benefit by reducing its carbon emissions by 289 tons a year and diesel bill by 80 percent. If that's the case, we should encourage municipalities across the country to take notice and follow suit.

Visit the Sierra Club's Go Electric Campaign.

-- Brian Foley

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