Power cord tripping EV demand
NO POWER CORD, THANKS! Sales of plug-in electric and hybrid cars are said to be stalling because owners are not too keen on the rechargers.
Battery cars may still be a way away for South African drivers - our infrastructure has still to catch up - but one reason for the general reluctance of car-buyers worldwide to plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles is the humble power cord.
According to a report by news agency Bloomberg, a number of companies are developing ways to charge batteries wirelessly via a charging mat plugged in to the power supply and under-car coils to engage the charger when the car is parked over it.
Such wireless chargers are expected to be ready in 2015, Bloomberg added.
WIRELESS IS 'TOTAL FREEDOM'
Phil Gott an IHS Automotive analyst specialising in powertrain research, said: "The feedback from (Chevrolet) Volt and (Nissan) Leaf buyers is 'Gee, these cords get really dirty; gee, these cords get all tangled; what a pain in the neck’. A wireless charger truly gives you total freedom."
Nissan, Delphi Automotive, Audi, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Qualcomm, Evatran and Brose Fahrzeugteile are among companies developing wireless chargers.
General Motors, maker of the Volt, invested $5-million in a private company called Powermat but so far uses the technology only to charge smartphones and other devices in the car.
Delphi's charger, using a technology developed by WiTricity and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, uses a magnetic field to transfer the charge between coils in the mat and the underside of the car.
WHERE ARE THE BUYERS?
Another hurdle is the market: GM sold 7671 plug-in hybrid Volts and Nissan 9674 all-electric power Leafs in 2011, according to Autodata. Through May 2012, Volt and Leaf combined deliveries totaled 9670 but Nissan sold 510 Leafs in May, a 55% drop in sales from a year earlier.
Electric versions of models also cost more, while driving range and charging time also deter purchases, Deloitte said.
Automakers are increasingly looking to such electric and hybrid vehicles to comply with regulatory pressure to reduce fossil-fuel consumption and to reduce emissions but such vehicles aren't even considered by 96% of consumers globally, a 2011 Deloitte survey said.