Imagine charging an electric vehicle wirelessly in much the same way you can charge an electric toothbrush, shaver or some mobile phones. No more hassling with awkward plugs, seen by many as a major factor slowing the growth of EV sales.
Wireless charging for EVs is on the verge of initial deployment, starting with the Mercedes-Benz S500e plug-in hybrid next year. It is already being piloted by some community bus systems. Some EV experts believe it will supplant the plug-in chargers in use today.
The technology, which dates to inventors such as Michael Faraday in the 1830s and Nikola Tesla in the early 1900s, uses electromagnetic energy to transmit power between two coils. In wireless vehicle charging, the energy moves from a transmitter coil, encased in a pad that sits on pavement, to a receiver coil housed in a pad underneath a vehicle. On the distant horizon, motorists may be able to get a charge from coils embedded in roadways as they travel along.