All the buzz about electric cars has just been given an extra jolt – a burst of innovation that may affect every professional driver very, very soon. Norway’s capital, Oslo, has announced that by 2023, every taxi in the city will be all-electric. To make this a reality, the Norwegians have overcome the biggest issue with battery-powered cars – the recharging. Soon, every Oslo cab will be charged on the move. By wi-fi.
Yes, wi-fi. No more cables or power points. It’s recharging through the air.
The tech term for this process is induction charging. It works through the transfer of electricity from a metal plate buried in the road. When a vehicle passes over the plate, a pick-up point on the car sucks up the energy. It’s the same as charging two mobile phones by placing them together, but on a bigger scale.
This means the vehicle no longer needs plugging in. The car gets its juice when it parks, idles or passes over the sending plate when it’s on the road. This keeps the cars permanently charged and able to work with much smaller batteries – which makes the cars more efficient, cheaper and lighter. Oslo will be placing the road plates in taxi-ranks, areas where cabs queue, (like at the airport), at major crossroads and in car parks. Installation has already begun, and existing electric taxis are being retrofitted with the pick-up plates. In Oslo, at least, a small part of the combustion engine’s long-lasting influence has now been wiped away.
Clearly, doing something like this in Norway, a nation with less than six million inhabitants, is much easier than in a major city like London or Manchester. But even so, this could be a turning point. If manufacturers move to adopt this tech, the sound of a petrol engine cruising through Piccadilly could soon be a memory.
What does this mean to the PHV driver?
Well, this is new technology, so there’s no need to panic.
However, this is a signal that all-electric is coming and there’s no going back. What with London’s ULEZ tolls and now congestion charges looming in Birmingham, Bristol, Bath and Leeds, UK cities seem in the mood to embrace wi-fi charging on a major scale. At this early stage, it’s hard to estimate the impact of this innovation, but there are some things we can be pretty sure of even
If UK cities moves towards this tech, they will probably go for black cabs first and start by
refitting their roadside ranks with charging plates.
Expect incentives to adopt the tech and penalties for running a petrol-powered vehicle.
As the tech improves and more road plates are laid, so all-electric cars will pick up energy on
the move 24/7. Taxis will be working even more hours than they do now.
Who will pay for the cost of retrofitting existing all-electric cars? This could be another driver
Right now, it’s too soon to tell. Wi-fi charging could be a boost for PHV, making vehicles cleaner, cheaper and quieter. Or, it could be costly, elitist, and a big step towards robot guided cars. Either way, the professional driver’s life just got more complicated.
Oslo to make all taxis electric-only by 2023.
Cars will recharge on the move using wi-fi.
No need to plug vehicles in. They charge continuously.
Use of electric-only vehicles expected to expand.
UK cities may wish to adopt this tech for taxis.
Could be a plus or a minus for PHV drivers.
Too soon to estimate the impact.
SOURCES and LINKS:
Wi-fi taxis in Oslo; https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/21/18276541/norway-oslo-wireless-charging-electric-taxis-car-zero-emissions-induction
Wi-fi charging tech: https://www.fleetcarma.com/soon-wireless-electric-vehicle-charging-coming/