By Michael Kanellos
Last Fall, we reported that Nissan (NSANY) was experimenting with ways to charge cars while they were on the road to extend the driving range of an all-electric.
"Electric charging without a connection," Minoru Shinohara, senior vice president of the technology development department at Nissan, told us in an interview at Ceatec, the large technology trade show outside of Tokyo, in October. "it is very [futuristic], but we need zero emission vehicles... With India, Russia and China, there is a large increase in vehicles expected."
A few ideas percolating in the program have begun to emerge. Nissan is looking at putting plates in the road for inductive charging, according to The Guardian. It quotes David Bott, director of innovation programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, who said: "If you look at handheld gadgets, inductive charging is a proven technology - the fundamental science says that it will work. I suspect you'll end up plugging electric cars in at night for efficiency, and by day using inductive for on-the-go recharging."
"It's scientifically feasible, but it's whether it's scalable and feasible is another matter," he added.
Of course, there are practical isues. The cost of putting a bunch of plates in the road would be expensive and you'd have to get other manufacturers to sign on. And imagine trying to convince pacemaker wearers that they are not in danger. Initially, Nissan will sell their all-electric car as a town car, which will reduce the need for public charging stations (although Nissan is also investing in those).
Logic and fancy guess work also makes me think they will put ultracapacitors or KERS systems in their cars for a quick fill of electrons.
But either way, it seems that Nissan is thinking hard about the problem. The company's first all-electric, coming next year, will be the first from a major car maker. Here are more details on that.