First Commercial Wireless Electric Car Lauched.

09Mar10

The problem with electric cars has always been that they aren’t very good at going. They are very good at not excreting harmful pollutants and quite good at being silent but they don’t tend to be able to go very far or very fast. The problem is that they require big batteries which are heavy and don’t hold enough power to compete with a tank full of petrol. This means that they are okay for the milkman (ask your parents) but not so great for other applications. Unfortunately most commercial vehicles (for van hire, transportation, couriers etc) still have to rely on diesel power.

A Theme Park in Seoul, South Korea has just opened the world’s first OLEV track. OLEV stand for On-Line Electric vehicle and it works like a combination of an electric car and a tram with a vehicle passing over power strips located 5cm underground. Rather than being connected to the power strips, the car uses wireless technology to recharge without physical contract. The video below gives a brief outline of the technology involved:

There are several benefits to using an OLEV system over more traditional electric cars. The lack of contact makes the system safer particularly given that the ‘track’ is in a public place. Using overhead electric tracks can be dangerous as can electrified monorails. The wireless technology means that the power is only transferred to the vehicle rather than to any passing squirrels. It is also beneficial in terms of weight as the cars or vans only need to carry a battery about one fifth the normal size as it is charged on-the-go.

The problem with using a power supply under the road is that it is expensive to fit and maintain. It’s not such a big issue in a closed Theme Park but it is not practical to add the system to most roads. It’s a great idea however and particularly good for commercial vehicles which travel the same route day after day. So we probably wont be traveling to work on OLEV vehicles in the next few years but the ability to charge wirelessly will no doubt soon be available to the home consumer.

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