Honda researches high-power electric-car charging, at highway speeds


2013 Honda Fit EV

2013 Honda Fit EV

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Even with recent efforts to expand it, electric-car charging infrastructure is nowhere near rivaling the ubiquity of gas stations.

But what if electric cars didn't need to stop to charge?

That's essentially what a new Honda research project aims to investigate.

DON'T MISS: Honda Clarity EV electric car to have only 80 miles of range: report

At the upcoming SAE World Congress Experience, a group of Honda researchers will present the findings of a paper on a "dynamic charging system," according to Green Car Congress (via Charged EVs).

The proposed system allows electric cars to charge on the go at 180 kilowatts, at speeds up to 96 mph.

Think of it as a life-size version of the electrified grooves in slot-car tracks.

All three versions of Honda Clarity teased (Plug-In Hybrid, Fuel Cell, EV) before 2017 NY auto show

All three versions of Honda Clarity teased (Plug-In Hybrid, Fuel Cell, EV) before 2017 NY auto show

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A followup to a paper presented by the same team of researchers at the 2015 SAE World Congress, the 2017 paper will include the results of tests, and discuss the future prospects for the technology.

At first glance, dynamic charging seems like a boon to electric cars.

It could in theory make them even more convenient than internal-combustion cars, because drivers might never have to stop to replenish on-board energy storage.

ALSO SEE: Road for electric trucks with trolley-like catenary opens in Sweden (Jul 2016)

But like most experimental technologies, dynamic charging may be more attractive as a concept than a real-world product.

The proposed charging rate of 180 kw is competitive with current high-power DC fast-charging stations.

Yet current wireless-charging systems don't charge at anywhere near that power, and they require cars to be stationary while charging.

Scania hybrid truck concept designed for

Scania hybrid truck concept designed for

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A dynamic-charging system embedded in a roadway would also require both considerable capital investment in rebuilding the roadway and consistent maintenance of that surface and electrical system.

Here in the U.S., even general road maintenance is often lax, so it is debatable at best whether a charging system could be kept in a state of good repair over hundreds or thousands of miles of heavily traveled highway.

Still, Honda isn't the first to try to think outside the traditional charging-station box when it comes to powering electric vehicles.

Last year, a stretch of highway near the city of Gävle Sweden was strung with overhead wires to power electrified trucks.

The trucks pick up electric current through pantographs that contact the wires, much like the way certain electric trains are powered.

The system was built to test an alternative way of powering electric trucks, which are currently restricted from long-haul duties because of short ranges.

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