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Car Companies' Head-on Competition In Electric Vehicle Charging

24 November 1998

Car Companies' Head-on Competition In Electric Vehicle Charging to Heat up Industry's North American Electric Vehicle & Infrastructure Conference
    SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 23 -- The world's biggest auto companies
are sharpening their competition as they forge ahead in two directions of
charging technology development for electric vehicles (EVs).  General Motors,
Nissan and Toyota are strongly promoting an inductive charging system, while
Chrysler, Ford and Honda are equally as aggressive in promoting a conductive
system.
    "This head-to-head competition over charging systems is an example of how
seriously the major car companies are developing electric vehicle
technologies," said Robert Hayden, executive director of the Electric Vehicle
Association of the Americas (EVAA).
    The winner?  That question will be explored at the 1998 North American
Electric Vehicle & Infrastructure Conference (NAEVI 98) this December in
Phoenix.  There, the world's leading automakers, utilities and EV
infrastructure suppliers will be showing their EVs and battery charging
products.  Both conductive and inductive chargers will be demonstrated,
including new fast chargers that can re-charge EVs in minutes.
    Hayden said that the automakers and their utility partners agree that both
the inductive and conductive systems are safe and each has its unique
advantages to offer consumers.
    "The marketplace ultimately will determine the preferred technology and
the biggest winners will be consumers, who benefit from decreased costs and
improved technology," said Hayden.

    Conductive and inductive charging technology: an insiders look
    Conductive charging, the traditional method of connecting electrical
equipment to power sources, uses metal-to-metal contacts to transfer
electricity.  Conductive connectors are used on virtually all electrical
equipment in homes, and by industry around the world.
    Conductive charging's open architecture is flexible enough for fast
charging and other future needs.  Designed for high reliability and ease of
service, conductive charging equipment requires no special tools, expensive
diagnostic equipment, or specialized training.
    "Conductive charging has been in use for more than 100 years," said John
Wallace, director of Ford Alternative Fuel Vehicle Programs.  "It has proven
safe, reliable and we believe it is the most cost-efficient technology
available today."
    Inductive charging uses a magnetic transfer-based system to create an
electromagnetic connection between the power source and the vehicle.  To
charge, EV drivers simply insert the plastic charge paddle in the charge port
located on the vehicle. There are no metal contacts.
    Inductive charging too can work with new fast-charge systems and, because
the charging componentry is generally located off-board, inductive charging
can reduce vehicle weight.
    "When viewed as complete systems from the utility grid to the vehicle
battery, the cost differences between inductive and conductive systems are
minimal," says Mark Amstock, manager of Toyota Electric Vehicle Programs.  "We
believe the inductive charging system fosters consumer confidence in electric
vehicle technology as a whole."

    Utilities support both technologies as good for the industry
    The automakers' electric utility partners generally are supportive of both
conductive and inductive charging technology development efforts.  They
believe that efforts to improve the technology enhance the efficiency and
lower the cost of both technologies, ultimately serving to benefit consumers.
    "These efforts to further develop infrastructure are truly a sign that
electric vehicles are going mainstream," says Rick Tempchin, director of
Electric Transportation for the Edison Electric Institute.  "We believe that
technological innovation is an indication of commitment.  In this industry,
the innovations we are seeing today in charging technologies are a strong
indicator of the success that lies ahead for EVs."
    NAEVI 98, sponsored by the Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas,
will be held December 3-4 at the Phoenix Civic Plaza.  The general public is
invited to visit displays and test drive electric and other advanced
technology vehicles on Saturday, December 5.
    Located in San Francisco, EVAA is the industry association working to
advance the commercialization of electric vehicles and supporting
infrastructure in the United States, Canada and Latin America through public
information and market development programs.   EVAA members are major industry
stakeholders, including auto companies and other vehicle manufacturers,
electric utilities, EV component suppliers, research institutions and
government agencies.  The Association serves as the industry's central source
of information about electric vehicles.