Volvo Explores Wireless Electric Car Charging Built into the Road

By · May 18, 2011

Volvo's inductive charging plan

Volvo's futuristic charge-as-you-go strategy.

Volvo is developing systems that don’t need power sockets or charging cables to keep your electric car full of juice. The company is launching a project that uses inductive charging, with charging plates buried in the road to wirelessly transfer energy to the car’s battery.

A Volvo C30 Electric will be delivered to its Volvo's Belgian technology partner, Flanders' Drive, on May 19 to be modified for inductive charging. The handover marks the formal start of the project, which goes under the name of CED (Continuous Electric Drive). Other participants include bus manufacturer Van Hool and tram manufacturer Bombardier.

Volvo explains that in inductive charging, a charging plate is buried in the ground, for instance in the driveway at home where the car is parked. The charging plate consists of a coil that generates a magnetic field. When the car is parked above the plate, energy from the plate is transferred without physical contact to the car's inductive pick-up. 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. Volvo says that charging a 24 kWh battery pack of the size fitted to the Volvo C30 Electric is expected to take a speedy 1 hour and twenty minutes, if the battery is entirely discharged.

Don’t expect this solution to become available anytime soon. "There is not yet any common standard for inductive charging," said Johan Konnberg, project manager from the Special Vehicles division of Volvo Car Corporation. It’s all about starting up the learning curve. "One aspect of this project is to integrate this technology into the road surface and to take energy directly from there to power the car. This is a smart solution that is some way into the future," said Konnberg.

Volvo C30 Electric

Volvo C30 Electric

Deliveries of the initial 250 units of the Volvo C30 Electric—equipped with today’s readily available charging technology—to select customers in Europe will begin during the second half of 2011. A limited number C30 Electric units are also expected in the United States, probably in 2012.


· · 7 years ago

My main concern with inductive charging - in a parking space or in the road - is the magnetic fields that are needed.

We're still learning how elector-magnetic wave affect us and the environment adding to it a huge amount of magnetic waves everywhere will just be a new form of pollution. Being exposed to magnetic fields for extended periods of time can increase cancer risk as well.

Heck if there's too much magnetic interference you won't get radio/gps, mp3 players / phones could get scrammbled, etc.

It's just a bad idea IMHO.

· EvDriver (not verified) · 7 years ago

How much energy is wasted? last time I read about this they were hoping for 80% of the energy to make the jump and that was while the car was parked, so I can only imagine that the losses while driving are going to be even greater, all so we don't have to plug a cord in.

· · 7 years ago

Sounds like another red herring to chase after so that Volvo doesn't have to really do anything new and can continue selling the old ICE cars that they know how to build.

· · 7 years ago

The cost to bury inductive chargers under road surfaces would be very, very substantial. I think continued investment in battery technology is much more likely to pay off. Once EVs commonly have 300 miles of range and the ability to fast charge, stopgap solutions like range extenders and under-the-road inductive chargers will be irrelevant. (Even today, with only 70 - 100 miles of range, EVs like the LEAF can meet most of the day-to-day driving requirements of most Americans.)

· · 7 years ago

Agreed. What's so hard about plugging in a cable to do the charging while its parked at home? When the discussion starts to drift towards burying these induction devices into long stretches of roadway (as it invariably does,) I have to shake my head and wonder what they're thinking. Who is going to pay for it? Who is going to dig it up when it stops working? What are residual effects going to be on other nearby electro-magnetic gadgets . . . such as a pacemaker buried in someone's chest?

· · 7 years ago

Just had an idea! Let's put two wires into the road, extend two mettle prongs from the cars to skid along the wires in the ground, then power the wires! I saw it work as a kid!


· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

Travisty, that technology exists today!
And has existed for over 100 years! Except the cars are trains.

Also, good point on the magnetic field.

Would be lovely to have peoples computer hard drives be destroyed by the charging systems!

· · 7 years ago

I remember these as a kid, Travisty. Yes, a very good - and humorous - analogy. The 1/64 scale brands back then were Aurora and Tyco and, if memory serves, there were compatibility issues between the two.

I actually had one of these 1/32 scale James Bond setups, although I seem to remember that the "bad guy" car on mine was a red '65 Mustang . . .

About a year later, when a slot car track opened in my home town, my father and I were disappointed to find out that these cars wouldn't work on their big 1/32 scale track.

Scale everything up and you could still have a compatibility issue with an inductance roadway that will work on some inductance cars and not others. Yes, you can learn a lot from slot cars!

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

If the infrastructure in put on heavily traveled roads, especially the interstate, the electricity sales might pay for the additional infrastructure just like it does for residential use. It would expand the 35 mile radius (73 mile range) of the Leaf to anywhere in the country, which would improve the payback because you drive more, wear the battery less (Nissan was saying it will only last 5 years) so it doesn't need replacement, or be used with HEVs (Insight: $20K) that don't cost two (Volt $41K/Malibu $20K) or three (Leaf: $33K, Versa $10K) times the amount.

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 7 years ago

The comments I had around these former articles on this site still apply:


There is still one thing that can be done to accelerate the practicality of EV driving. As we all know the important thing in a plug-in vehicle is the possibility to plug it in a wall socket for the recharge. But once, that can be done, paradoxically, the next step is to let it happen automatically. This means your car drives on a charging pod and a security and communication protocol directly start without that you even have to think about it. The pod controls the contacts connection quality with the contacts underneath the car and the car ask the pod what voltage and amperage is available, the pod answers 240 V 15 A and it starts charging the car if it has clearance. You then come back and drive away in the morning with a full battery. No plug to manipulate, just contacts under your car that touch the pod's contacts. One could call that "park and forget". It is particularly interesting for people that tend, well, to forget, or perhaps it can also be used to get an extra charge outside when you are waiting at a traffic light or parked at a shop. The pod outside would of course ask your car ID number and a code before you can charge in order to be paid for the electricity it provides. Pods would fit very well with V2G possibilities as well.


That's exactly a dream situation for public charging pods on the ground (Park & Forget system or P&F that I explained in a former message). The car would parks over it and the pod contacts would connect with the ones under the car. A security and ID protocol would start automatically and your car would start to charge. Your account is debited the price of the taken electricity. Typically, you never have to think about putting the plug in the wall socket. You just park above a pod, close your car, walk to your apartment and in the morning you take your car fully loaded. You then drive in to your parents apartment, you park there above another pod, the same protocol takes place and when you go back to your own apartment your car has been recharged again. In this was you don't need a garage or a dedicated charging place, but you can drive your leaf everywhere. In the end, you would even start to forget it is an electric car and is self charging automatically each time you park above a pod. You know those little laying half cylinders with two metallic contacts, a foot apart from each other, on which your dog pisses sometimes. Of course your dog never had a bad experience because it never send the electronic code the pod is waiting for to start the charging process and, in more, the pod would not be satisfied with the contact closing security situation report and would refuses powering up anyway. The same with rain or a kid playing, a secure system that allow apartment dwellers to drive EV and facilitate the life of garage equipped house owners as well when they drive downtown.


automatic charging systems can be made as a park and forget system based on simple contacts on a half cylinder with contacts on it and contacts under the car. A safety protocol can then check the presence of the car. Conduction is usually preferred to induction because of cost and efficiency concerns,

Some other discussions are from 2003 on the gridable hybrids group:

· · 5 years ago

I came up with this idea back when I went to Purdue Calumet in 94. This is exactly what I did. I built a small scale remote control car and tried to see how it would work. I found you lose a lot of energy. The car also slowed by the magnetic field. I'm curious how they came up with an exact copy of what I did.The only thing I had that they don't is I included a solar cell to help charge. If anyone knows how they came up with this design, please e-mail me.

· · 5 years ago

I want to clarify my last comment. My project was driving a vehicle over the road to charge it not parking. The actual circuitry worked the same using induction from the road.

· · 4 years ago

Travisty - this is being done already, in a way. You should look at this website:

interesting idea. And can be retrofitted into any vehicle!

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