It appears that Volvo is investing heavily in electric car technology. Following our report last week on innovations in battery technology, Volvo has successfully completed a 17-month study on the potential of inductive, wireless charging for electric vehicles.
The Swedish automaker, which provided a Volvo C30 Electric, participated in a Flemish research initiative begun by Flanders’ Drive, an automotive knowledge center in Belgium. Participants included Volvo, Bombardier Transportation, and Van Hool, all working with partial funding from the Flemish government to conduct advanced studies on charging electric cars and buses using energy transfer via electromagnetic fields.
The Volvo C30, using an 89kW (120 hp) electric motor, took two and a half hours to fully recharge over the wireless system. The convenience of not having to plug anything in should be a major selling point for this technology, considering the current mentality among many consumers that electric vehicles are impractical.
Lennart Stegland, vice president of electric propulsion systems at Volvo, has confidence in the technology’s potential. “Cordless technology is a comfortable and effective way to conveniently transfer energy. The study also indicates that it is safe,” he said in a statement. Since there isn’t a current standard for this kind of technology, Stegland pledged that Volvo will continue research and will, “evaluate the feasibility of the technology in our hybrid and electric car projects.”
Inductive charging technology, which allows the car's battery to charge wirelessly once the car is parked over a special charging platform, has already been employed on a much smaller scale in home appliances such as toothbrush chargers since the early 2000s. It was also used in the 2013 Toyota Avalon, where it is possible to charge a cell phone simply by placing it over the charging device, without plugging in a cable.
Even though it was a test project, Volvo is the first auto manufacturer to successfully apply this technology to a production model, although it was previously featured in the Infinite LE concept that was shown at the 2012 New York auto show. Like the Volvo C30 Electric, the LE concept could charge wirelessly via electromagnetic field by parking over a charging station. Volvo did not provide a timeline for when this technology could go into series production.