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Volvo cuts the cord, makes wireless charger for electric cars
by Kathryn Robbins on May 22, 2011
Over the past few decades we’ve become obsessed with wireless gadgets. From cordless phones to wireless charging stations for smartphones, we are living a wire-free lifestyle. However, with the introduction of electric cars like Nissan’s Leaf we are tied to a charging cord again. Volvo is looking to create a convenient charging system for EVs that will charge a car without the use of wires or plugs in your garage.
The problem with the current crop of EVs is their charging method. Drivers basically perform an operation everyday that’s similar to pumping gas. They need to get out of their car, locate the cable on their charging unit, find the port on their car, and attach the car to the power source. For those that forget to plug-in, they won’t have a ride to work in the morning.
Volvo partnered with the Belgian firm Flanders' Drive to make charging your EV easier than rewinding a VHS tape. As soon as drivers pull into their garage or parking spot, a charging plate that’s embedded in the ground can start the process. The system is based on inductive charging, the same process that provides juice to your electric toothbrush; a magnetic field transfers power to the car. According to Volvo, “The energy that is transferred is alternating current. This is then converted into direct current in the car's built-in voltage converter, which in turn charges the car's battery pack.”
The Swedish-based carmaker is going to test out the new charging system or CED (Continuous Electric Drive) system on their C30 Electric which has a 24 kilowatt-hour battery. Volvo estimates that the inductive charger will be able to juice up a spent battery in about an hour and twenty minutes. C30 Electric owners that opt for the corded method of charging will have to wait six to eight hours to get their car juiced up.
Don’t expect to see the CED at your local dealer just yet. Volvo needs to develop a way to mesh the technology with the base price of a EV; it costs $5,000 to retrofit a car for a similar system developed by the University of Auckland's Power Electronics Group. Until then, we’ll just have to get used to plugging in.