Manhole covers next big thing for eco-vehicles?

eco-vehicle
(Image: HEVO Power)

The next big step in the eco-vehicle revolution just might be something not attached to the vehicle – manhole cover charging stations.

A company named HEVO Power has come up with the charging station, which would not require motorists to plug in their vehicles to get a battery charge.

Recharging without cords is something of a Holy Grail for eco-vehicle drivers.

Widespread availability still may be some time away, but HEVO will be testing the new stations – which look like, yes, manhole covers (see image) – beginning early next year with New York University. But the New York-based company also is talking with several major vehicle fleet owners, including Pepsi and Walgreens, about a bigger test, according to a report in WIRED magazine.

The cities of Santa Monica, Calif., and San Francisco also are interested in tests in early 2014, but there have been no commitments yet, Gregory Stahl, HEVO’s chief marketing officer, said another report.

How does such an idea happen? Jeremy McCool, HEVO CEO and founder told WIRED for the article “New York City Is Getting Wireless EV Chargers Disguised as Manholes.”

“I was walking down the street, pondering how wireless charging could be deployed,” McCool recalled.  “I was standing at 116th and Broadway, and I was looking down and saw a manhole cover. And thought, that’s the ticket. There are no cords, no hazards. Everything can be underneath the manhole cover.”

“HEVO’s system comes in three parts: a power station that can either be bolted to the street or embedded in the pavement, a vehicle receiver that’s connected to the battery, and a smartphone app that lets drivers line up their vehicle with the station and keep tabs on charging,” WIRED reported.

If the reality is anything like the buzz, HEVO just might be on to something.

“There are, of course, other wireless charging systems on the market, but HEVO’s is designed to work faster and more efficiently than most of those,” writes Richard Read in “That’s Not a Manhole Cover, It’s an Electric Car Charger” at The Car Connection (thecarconnection.com).

“As hybrid and electric vehicles gain popularity, consumers also want them to be as simple to power up as gas-fueled cars and trucks. One way to do that is to remove the charging wires and have the vehicles recharge simply by parking over a wireless charger,” writes Lucas Mearian in an article, “Auto Industry Cuts the Cord on Electric Car Charging,” at Computerworld.com.

The manhole-cover chargers won’t be accessible to the public but will be used to charge two Smart Fortwo Electric Drive plug-in cars operated by NYU, according to reports.

“There is, of course, always a downside—and it’s a rather big one: It will take at least 10 hours atop a manhole to charge a car sufficiently enough to run 170 miles,” writes Charles Kennedy in his article “New York Manholes for Electric Car Charging” at oilprice.com.

HEVO did not disclose the cost of its wireless charging manhole covers, but said the technology will be competitive with other systems already on the market at prices ranging between $3,500 and $5,000, according to the Computerworld.com report.

HEVO stands for hybrid and electric vehicle optimization.

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