14 new all electric cars will hit market

February 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
In the coming year, major auto manufacturers will begin selling 14 new pure-electric cars and, for the first time, they will be sharing a standard plug-in cable. However, now, some companies believe that electric cars don't need a plug at all. Here's a look at a universal car charger.

A partly-disassembled car is being charged, yet it is not plugged in. Since the dawn of the electric car, manufacturers have been dogged by the charger. At the turn of the century, there were almost as my different plugs as there were cars. This was a problem for public garages that could not accommodate every style. And for drivers who had to worry whether their destinations would have the right plug socket. I know. I drove an electric Honda as my only car for four years.

Today, for the first time, the industry has standardized on a single charger. Well, actually three flavors of a single charger: Level 1, which uses a common 120v AC plug, but is slow, Level 2, which requires a dedicated 240v AC charger and plug in your garage, but is 4 times faster, and Level 3 (and DC Quick Charge), which are not intended for home use, but are superfast (30 minutes to a full "tank").

This standardization ought to provide a boost to electric vehicle sales everywhere. In the United States, more than 100 projects are underway building thousands of car stations with help from the US Department of Energy.

In the meantime, one technology company thought, why not do away with the cord and plug entirely? After all, we don't plug in our toothbrushes at night.

A toothbrush is charged through something called induction. It doesn't need to make contact with the electrical wiring, just hover near it. The same principle is at work in this design from Qualcomm. The toothbrush is a plate attached to the car; the base plate is a mat that rests on the garage floor. The battery charges through the air.

At this point, Qualcomm is testing the system on a 50-car fleet in London.

Current production electric vehicles have a fuel cost of $.02 per mile. The average gasoline powered passenger car $.20 per mile at $4 per gallon.


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