Shoreditch plugs into a wi-fi motoring revolution

WI-FI FOR CARS? About time, some might say and, hurrah, it’s coming to Shoreditch. The first wi-fi charging station for motor vehicles in Britain is being installed in Tech City, the hi-tech and entrepreneur hub around Old Street roundabout that has become known for innovation.

In the UK’s first trial, by Qualcomm, a US technology multinational, electric cars will be fitted with wireless-charge receivers to connect their batteries to charging points. Some of controversial London firm Addison Lee’s taxis will test the system. Private owners of electric cars wanting to tap into the rechargers will need to buy extra kit to make their motor compatible. That could cost £3,000.

The trial uses inductive power-transfer technology to charge an electric vehicle’s batteries wirelessly via a ground-embedded transmitter pad that connects with a receiver pad in the vehicle.

Andrew Gilbert, of Qualcomm, said: “The system will magnetically optimise the connection, so it doesn’t matter if you are slightly askew while charging or terrible at parking your car like me.” That’s his way of saving the system will be easy to use. (Gilbert’s comment is note only self-deprecating, it also seems a little anticipatory — the trial is only just starting — but, hey, perhaps his optimism should be applauded.)

A similar wireless-charging trial is to start in Oxford next month. The London and Oxford tests both involve Chargemaster, a maker of electric-recharging points that has started installing a national network of 4,000 recharging stations, some of them with wi-fi fittings. Most electric cars are, however, still sold with a power cord  it will be several years before public wireless charge points outnumber plug-ins.

Whether electric cars, charged via cords or cordlessly, are more ecological than conventional petrol or diesel-engine vehicles is still a topic of vigorous discussion. The cost of producing the electricity varies from country to country: silent running is not necessarily green motoring.

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2 thoughts on “Shoreditch plugs into a wi-fi motoring revolution

  1. Electric cars are 90% efficient at converting board energy into power. ICEs are about 40%. The grid is 25% low-carbon. It will increase.

    You could run an electric car on renewables only.

    ICE emissions are killing people. Hackney’s main roads are badly polluted.

    Up to 19,000 deaths a year in Britain, says The Telegraph article you cite. I commend it to readers. But can you spell out ICE for us, please? — Ed.

    1. ICE is short for internal combustion (petrol and diesel) engine.

      I was taking issue with this part of your article: “The cost of producing the electricity varies from country to country: silent running is not necessarily green motoring.”

      What has the cost of producing electricity to do with its green credentials – other than that offshore wind, photovoltaic cells and wave power are, for the moment, more expensive than burning coal or gas to make electricity? On-shore wind has just about reached parity with fossil fuels.

      Electric vehicles – buses, trains, taxis, cars and bikes – are the way we can decarbonise our transport system.

      True. I was merely suggesting that sustainability is a more complex concept than proponents of various schemes sometimes suggest. – Ed.

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