IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Electric cars haven't reached the same popularity in east Idaho as it has in other parts of the country. It may be due to the hassle of plugging in the car or the fact that it's practically useless if you forget to charge it. With the help of the Idaho National Laboratory, a company called Evatran has made a breakthrough.
"We've tested wireless charging for electric vehicles and we've shown that it's not only relevant, but it's also efficient and safe," said INL research engineer, Richard Carlson.
Carlson said the new technology does away with charging cords and is more user-friendly.
"Because it's wireless and automated, you don't have to remember to plug in your electric vehicle," he said.
Researchers hope this new advancement will push more consumers to buy electric cars.They say the new technology could save on time and money if you rely on a gasoline-fueled car as backup.
So when can you get your hands on this new charger?
"It's available now," said Carlson.
It could still be a project on the drawing board if it weren't for the INL. They consider themselves the leading experts in electrical vehicle testing as well as conductive charger testing.
"For charging electric vehicles, especially over a 4-inch gap, this is a breakthrough or transitional technology. It's just now emerging into the marketplace," he said.
So how does the new charger work?
In laymen terms, researchers explain it that the electric car pulls over the parking pad with a charging block attached underneath. A mounted control panel then guides the driver to make sure the alignment is accurate.
It may sound simple, but it's a matter of availability. Developers hope to install this new technology in personal garages. If consumer demand increases, they hope to make public wireless charging stations. The new technology will also work on older electric cars.