We find that automakers who have historically been betting on hydrogen fuel cells over battery-powered vehicles, like Honda, are very focused on the speed of charging since it’s currently the only advantage fuel cells have over batteries.
While charge rates are obviously important, it’s not actually the biggest barrier to EV adoption since most people charge overnight. Nonetheless, Honda wants to give “unlimited range” to electric vehicles with a new dynamic charging technology at high speeds.
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Honda doesn’t currently produce any all-electric vehicles, but it is reportedly going to offer battery-powered and PHEV versions of the Clarity, which was first developed to be a fuel cell hydrogen car.
While the dynamic charging technology isn’t likely to be implemented in those vehicles, Honda plans to demonstrate it at WCX 17 SAE World Congress Experience next month.
Dynamic charging requires charging hardware to be embedded into or over the road. It would basically create invisible train tracks for EVs to use and potentially drive continuously by wirelessly charging. Honda wrote in the paper they plan to present at SAE:
“Technology enabling to both supply power and perform charging while driving (dynamic charging) is being researched and developed as a means of addressing issues such as those above. If the amount of energy that can be supplied while driving does not at least exceed the driving energy of the traveling vehicle, then battery charging cannot be performed, and the vehicle would also need to continuously travel in a restricted lane in the manner of a train.”
The infrastructure cost is the main barrier when it comes to this technology, but maybe Honda will be offering solutions to the problem with this new system they are developing.
They claim that the system that they developed and tested for the study “enables dynamic charging with a charging power of 180 kW (DC 600 V, 300 A) while driving at a vehicle speed of 155 km/h (96 mph).”
In the short-term, dynamic charging is not expected to be an important part of the electric revolution in the automobile industry. But in the long-term and with the advent of autonomous driving, we could see the technology being used on sections of highways in order increase the on-road time of some vehicles, especially trucks.
In 2015, the UK approved off-road trials for wireless electric vehicle charging on highways. We could see more of those projects in the near future.