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Plugless Power – Click above for high-res image gallery

Evatran's Plugless Power wireless/proximity charging system continues to evolve. In the photo gallery below, you can see that the new circular sensor is quite different from the large rectangle that was on display at the Plug-In 2010 Conference. It's not only the shape that's changing. From the wall to the car, Plugless Power's system is around 90-91 percent efficient, and the efficiency across the gap is an astonishing 97 percent. A year ago, the overall efficiency was just 80 percent.

Co-Founder and CEO Tom Hough told AutoblogGreen at the Plug-In 2011 Conference that the new system is even easier to use than it was. Once a plug-in car has been upgraded with the charge receiver, the driver just needs to be close to the sending unit to get power. The discs can be a half-radius off and still charge. Hough told us that, "even the die-hards said plugging in was a pain the rear." If you're not sold on the convenience angle, then how about the idea that there is nothing mechanical to break with this system? In the old model, a part inside the rectangle moved back and forth to find the in-car receiver. It worked, but it wasn't as elegant as the new device.

Things aren't done quite yet. To get the product from the testing phase into customer hands, a trial phase is now starting, and the company is looking for 8-12 fleet Chevy Volts to have their cars converted by the end of the year. This will expand to 20-30 more units in January with the target for production units some time later in 2012.


Plugless Power at Plug-In 2011
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Photos copyright ©2011 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

Plugless Power

Even though only fleets are being considered for this first phase of tests, Evatran was showing off its new home version of the wireless EVSE at this year's conference. These home stations will cost around $2,000, or $3,000 for an outdoor unit. To retrofit your EV costs another $2,000, but Hough said he expects that to come down at some point. He was mum on details, but did say that the business plan shows the costs dropping "a fair amount" for each of the next five years.

One potential problem is that UL doesn't have a standard for wireless charging, so the unit is obviously not yet UL certified. The solution could come in the form of a new standard that Plugless Power will help develop with UL. There's another thing that this technology might engender: ways to dynamically charge vehicles as they move down the road. Hough made it clear that people within the company are only thinking about this option – i.e., writing papers, not doing any actual work yet – at this point. We saw another example of this from Utah State University the other day, and if there is already some sort of competition for this sort of super-futuristic technology happening today, then the next 10 years are going to be very interesting indeed.

In the meantime, Evatran and its partner Yazaki are working with big automakers to maybe make a plug-less option for your new plug-in vehicle available as an OEM-installed option at some point, Hough said that nothing can be announced yet. We'll be waiting for that news and, until then, we just have to admit that it was kind of neat to see a Volt charging without a cord hanging from its left front corner.


Plugless Power at Plug-In 2011
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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      budfox
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm wondering how this system would work under tough conditions with ice and snow slush on the street and car sub-floor. I prefer a simple cord, though wireless home/garage charging could be a nice gimmick for those who like maximum comfort.
      Ziv
      • 3 Years Ago
      97% at the gap is amazing, I had thought that exceeding 90% would be difficult. Any loss of energy is unfortunate but considering how inefficient our lightbulbs have been for so long, anything over 80% efficiency looks pretty good.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        There are losses in charging through a cord too, heating of the cord etc.. Wampfler reckon they hit 95% some time ago. Here is a highly technical document on it - above my head, I am afraid: http://www.utc.edu/Academic/EngineeringProjects/SmartCart/documents/ICFinalReport.doc
      letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wireless charging will allow more distribution of charging spots, in areas that wouldn't tolerate kiosks and plugs cluttering up the sidewalks. My city wouldn't even consider a charge station that distracted from the historical architecture of the downtown district, but these could work invisibly.
        Elmo Biggins
        • 3 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        How many housing apartments are their in that downtown district? I don't know, you whine alot.
        Ele Truk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        But a $2000 additional cost to an EV for a proprietary system will really only work with fleets.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        Oh they'll get over it. Just disguise them as old gas lamps or something.
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        @LTW. Thats a very valid point. Wireless charging will cost a little more to install, but has not just aesthetic but safety and convenience advantages. Many cities will find that very attractive. Especially those cities with citizens affluent enough to afford EV's with wireless charging facilities.
      Chris M
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would do a lot of plugging in to save $2K, the trivial convenience isn't worth the cost for me. But if they developed a "powered roadway" system, that would offer a much more substantial advantage that might be worth the extra cost.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Any safety concerns with pacemakers?
      Leo Chan
      • 3 Years Ago
      convenient for home users, but in public area a plug is preferred as multiple cars can park around 1 EVSE and share charge without moving cars.
      uzombie
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hey, that looks like a Volkswagen grill/valance!
        Guticb
        • 3 Years Ago
        @uzombie
        It is... That's a 5th generation GTI. Why are they using it to demonstrate inductive charging? o.0
          CanaDoc
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Guticb
          It's ok, you can see that the pad in that pic isn't really connected to electricity, it's only pretending to be - just like VW... bazinga!
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      sure it's elegant to have effortless charging but just as wireless internet sucks there might be some persistent technical issues with it. maybe trade off between device diameter and position tolerance (big device to fit on the car). and unintended field effects, you may have sensitive electronics just above the coil in the car. or the field might interfere with humans and be harmful. you also need a universal standard. could go either way I think.
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