To respond to the supposed demand, car makers designed hybrid and electric vehicles. However, of the millions of vehicles sold each year, hybrid and electric vehicles represent a paltry quarter of a percent of all vehicles sold. Simple eighth grade algebraic formulas would tell you this math doesn't make sense. Let's see, public scrutiny on mileage and fuel standards (x) times gas prices (y) plus a recognition of the need to ease oil consumption, minus the correlation between available vehicles divided by convenience equals we should be selling hybrids and electrics. Everything looks tip-top except for one of my variables. Convenience is not quite at the level where Americans can justify the increased cost.
Why has 7,100+ new entrant sales only meant a total bump of 2,800 vehicles sold in this segment through the November reporting month year-over- year? Once again, I have to go back to convenience. Where can the prospective buyer charge their EV? What is the mileage? How long does the vehicle take to charge once empty/drained? The answers to those questions do not make a compelling case to purchase an EV.
Enter a Stanford Research team in the Center for Automotive Research Science (CARS) that has developed a self-charging system in the roads, to manage the issues of how long to charge, when and how often. The stated vision of this team is for a driver to be able to "drive on any highway and charge [their] car." Go on, I'm intrigued...
Apparently, the transfer of energy is based on a system called magnetic transfer coupling. That's a fancy term to say that a couple of copper coil tubes will be in tune for one to accept energy from the other connected to an electric grid. The accepting tube will be in the vehicle and able to accept the electricity at highway speeds. This only works if their in tune, though. If you want to read more detail about it, check out the article in the Stanford University News or check out the following video.
This is interesting, for many reasons. First, it eliminates the convenience issues and makes owning an EV cool. Second, there would need to be a herculean effort to completely revamp the highway system to support it. Third, can I get this technology for other stuff in my house? Lastly, and probably most seriously - car chases might go on forever.
What do you think of the electric highway grid? If we can do it, do we have the will and can this be the magic elxir to cure the ailing EV market?
Posted by Therran Oliphant, Product Marketing Manager, Polk (02.10.2012)