Car Companies' Head-on Competition In Electric Vehicle Charging
24 November 1998Car 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.