Headquartered in Kamen, Germany, HELLA Electronics Corp, is developing a unique wireless charging system for electric vehicles, one that may raise more than a few eyebrows, if not plows. The company’s approach involves the use of inductive charging techniques. Instead of wired plug-in charging stations, drives can park over an inductive charging unit to begin the recharging process.
According to Dr. Marc Rosenmayr, CEO for HELLA Electronics in North and South America, “If inductive charging coils were embedded in streets, electric vehicles also could be recharged when stopped at traffic lights or even while being driven.” One need only imagine the streets and roads integrating these inductive charging units underground, placed strategically for optimal coverage, particularly in out of the way and desolate areas. "Wireless, inductive charging is a far more convenient way to recharge a vehicle's battery system," Rosenmayr states. "The driver only needs to stop or drive over a charging unit or network to activate the process. As wireless charging has become more available and easy to use, it also might allow automakers to reduce battery size and weight on electric and hybrid electric vehicles.”
Hella believes this approach will reignite interest in electrical and hybrid vehicles. The company’s reasoning is quite logical in terms of present situations. First, the greatest ease of owning an electrical car rests in the hands of those who own or rent a house (not an apartment, condo, or condominium) with an area like a garage, driveway, or just a space in front of the house where they can run an electrical cord to the vehicle. Second, commercial/consumer charging stations are far and few between, which could lead to higher fuel consumption in the case of hybrids, and overall stress and anxiety when the charge is low and one has far to go to charge up.
The company acknowledges there are a number of obstacles to overcome before we all charge up wirelessly. For one, heat caused by energy transfers via high frequencies could present safety issues. Also, the impact of inductive charging on other electronics - navigation, infotainment, and keyless entry systems - is still unknown.
In theory, on paper, and in the annals of noble intent, Hella’s approach sounds pretty good, particularly for existing electric vehicle owners, potential buyers, the car makers, the environmentalists, and several other persons and entities. However, there are some other issues to consider.
Who will be responsible for installing these inductive units under the pavements? Obviously the service provider, which means a large utility conglomerate will most likely have its fingers in the pie, or better put, consumers’ wallets.
Speaking of fingers in the pie, when these rechargers are ready for installation under city streets and national highways, what and how many government agencies will outstretch their hands for taxes, fees, permits, dues, construction licenses, inspections, Q-wave taxes, etc.? Well, that’s unpredictable, inevitable, and always expensive.
Getting back into city streets and agencies, how about all that other stuff under the streets and sidewalks? There are cable-TV lines, phone lines, fiber optics, power lines, natural gas and oil pipelines. There’s always one being repaired, replaced, or installed. In some cities, like New York, the streets are under constant excavation.
Then, whenever the weather gets a little feisty, potholes open and understructure gets exposed. Again, New York City is a good example. Ever since the great rock salt shortage of the early 1990s, whenever there is so much as one snowflake in the sky, the sanitation trucks hit the streets, dumping 2.89-lbs. of rock salt for every potential square inch of snow. Aside from raising pedestrians’ blood pressure from mere absorption through their shoes, rock salt not only opens up those previously-filled pot holes, but initiate many new ones. So this is yet another threat to the new charging system.
Other than those few questions and challenges, my seventh sense tells me the company has one hell-of-a technology brewing. ~MD
For more details:
HELLA Electronics Corporation
43811 Plymouth Oaks Blvd.
Plymouth Twp., MI 48170
Email: [email protected]