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What’s next for the electric car? Wireless power, lithium-air batteries and more

The first generation of electric cars arrived in the early days of last century, and died out largely because batteries couldn’t compete with gas tanks. The second generation arose largely in the last decade, led by Tesla, but while batteries have improved significantly over the last century, they’re still the limiting factor. Meanwhile, the economy of gasoline cars has also improved significantly, giving electric stiffer competition than the gas guzzlers of decades ago.

While the third generation of electrics will bring a number of improvements, the most important ones will address the pressing issue of power. There are a number of technologies that could, separately or together, finally make electric vehicles kick gas-powered cars off the playing field.
Inductive charging

Inductive charging allows a device – whether a smartphone or an electric car – to charge without a physical connection to a power source. Interestingly, Nissan and Infiniti will be among the first to offer it, even though Tesla has led pretty much every other aspect of electric vehicles since it launched in 2003. (This is especially unusual since one of the first demonstrations of this technology on a car was with a Tesla Roadster, but apparently without much interest from Tesla.)

With 1,000 mile range, you wouldn’t have to worry about chargers much.
Qualcomm has a version of inductive charging, called Halo, designed for both parking spots and interstate highways. It requires close proximity, but not contact, which would still be a vast improvement over having to actually plug the car in. Part of the improvement is that the device could be completely buried, making it far more difficult to vandalize, or for inexperienced drivers to damage. In most cases, you simply park your car and any power your car consumes is either free (as an incentive to get you to park there, something a shopping center or retailer might do) or you’d get a bill at the end of the month for whatever you consumed.

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