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.

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