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USA: Wireless electric-car charging takes center stage

How much do you hate going to a gas station? Would plugging your car in every night be even more of a pain? Or would it become a simple routine, much like plugging in your cell phone at night? Those are some of the main questions electric car advocates are asking this week at EVS26, the 26th annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles. The answers, of course, depend on what you’re selling.

As we discussed yesterday, electric car charging consumes much of the conversation at this year’s event. Traditional electric-car advocates like to point out that in surveys, owners much prefer plugging in to going to a gas station.

Now a counterpoint is springing up. Several companies, including Delphi, Siemens. and Qualcomm, have developed inductive charging mats that allow drivers to simply pull into their garage (or another so-equipped parking place) and charge. No plugging necessary. Both the car and the parking space would have to be equipped for such wireless charging. Siemens estimates the installation cost of both parts would run about $2,000, or twice what a corded home charger would cost at that time.

Qualcomm has developed a technology that would allow the car to charge if the driver got within 8 or 9 inches of the proper position over the charging pad. That’s enough leeway that as long as the car is between the lines of the parking spot, charging should take place. A dashboard light indicates if the charger isn’t engaged.


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