Toyota's heavy duty division, Hino, is testing a new kind of plug-in hybrd...one without a plug. The batteries on the hybrid assist and even sometimes take over for the diesel engine. But the energy in the batteries doesn't come from a plug, it comes from a wireless charging system built into the road.
That's pretty frikkin' cool, but it's also a recipe for inefficiency. A series of induction coils built into the road resonate energy at certain frequency, like radio waves. The bus is able to capture those waves and store the energy in its batteries. This allows the bus to continue its route all day long, never having to stop for charges, while operating on a much greater percentage of grid power than could otherwise be stored in its batteries.
Unfortunately, transferring electricity wirelessly is invariably inefficient. Generally less than half of the energy transmitted actually gets picked up by the receiver. This would likely tilt the carbon equation in favor of the diesel engine, rather than the grid.
Nonetheless, it is a very cool idea. We hope to see it develop, and we also hope to see some official efficiency numbers and charge times from Hino in the near future. But just imagine...an electric car-only lane where you drive while your vehicle pulls power from the grid. Never stopping for gas again, watching the bill tick up on your heads-up display cent by cent as you pull energy wirelessly from an all-renewable, fusion-powered grid...
I love the future.
written by Dr. Al, March 10, 2008
written by solar steve, May 16, 2010
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