Great strides are being made in increasing the range electric cars can travel on a single charge. But the problem of where and how EV batteries are recharged persists. Because, let’s face it, plugging a car into an outlet isn’t exactly an elegant, or particularly convenient solution.

Honda may have a solution to the problem, though, revealed in a recently published patent. As you can see above, the patent shows an arm that would extend from the vehicle to a charging rail, mounted either at the side of the road like a guard rail, or embedded into the blacktop.

The rail would be connected to the electricity grid and feed power directly to the EV’s batteries. Most of the world’s subway systems use similar “third rails” to directly power the trains’ electric motors.

The development of wireless charging via coils embedded into the road surface is already well advanced. Honda’s proposal would be cheaper to implement and easier to maintain, but those benefits would be outweighed by myriad potential problems.

A rail would add yet more road furniture, pose a danger to pedestrians, and need to be kept clear of debris, snow, and probably even water if it’s embedded into the road. The arm would be vulnerable to breakage, would add considerably more weight and probably cost than a wireless charging coil, and just look awful.

Still it’s an interesting proposal. As automakers and legislators grapple with the problem of providing infrastructure to power electric cars, there will inevitably be all sorts of wacky ideas put forward. The electric car is effectively forcing the auto industry to start again from scratch so, as in any new industry, it will take some years for the best solutions to the various problems to emerge. It was 20 years after Karl Benz built his Patent-Motorwagen that the filling station was invented. 

Source: US Patent Office

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