Prototype Electric Renault Van Showcases In-Transit Charging Capabilities

Renault have been testing a dynamic wireless electric charging system on a dedicated track.

Renault have been testing a dynamic wireless electric charging system on a dedicated track.

Renault has been at the forefront of the EV market with its zero-emissions commercial vehicles, including the Kangoo ZE van. But one of the main limitations of this technology is the need for recharging to occur while the vehicle is stationary.

A new trial by the French firm has shown that it may soon be possible to power up electric vans while they are in motion, overcoming this key obstacle, according to Auto Express.

This test has taken place at a dedicated track where engineers have laid out a special charging strip over which the Kangoo ZE can drive, enabling it to top up the battery without having to come to a complete stop.

New Charging Capabilities

The so-called dynamic wireless electric vehicle charging system makes use of hardware developed by Renault’s partners, including the chip manufacturer Qualcomm. And because it is wireless, there is no need for the van to be in direct contact with the charging surface itself.

The set-up is capable of transmitting electricity at wattages which are almost as powerful as those achieved via wired charging solutions, meaning that it can be expected to provide a similar overall experience without the setback of having to stay in one place.

There is a limit to the speed at which the van can be moving for the charging to be maintained effectively, but thankfully this is set at 62mph, which means even EVs travelling on motorways could theoretically be capable of receiving power via this method.

Prototype Charging Track from Renault

While the research team has only laid the wireless charging strip along a 100-metre stretch of the test track, it is a project which hints at what may eventually be possible on a much larger scale, forming part of a multi-million-pound scheme being conducted across Europe to pursue the development of this technology.

Wireless charging is not an entirely new concept, and it is one which many people may already have encountered. Modern smartphones often feature the ability to charge wirelessly when placed in close proximity to compatible charging pads, and the same basic principles are at play here.

Of course, a major overhaul of the UK’s road network would be necessary to provide wireless charging strips with enough coverage to be worthwhile for van drivers and other EV owners to use. And there are other developments on the horizon which may render this concept redundant even before it is deployed.

Some argue that fuel-cell-powered EVs are a better option than battery-based models, while battery technology is also being improved to reduce the amount of time that charging takes to complete.

Of course, the wireless charging system may simply be used as a way to extend the range of electric vans and cars rather than as an entire alternative to plug-in solutions that are currently available.

In addition to the Kangoo ZE, Renault has recently introduced the higher-capacity Master ZE electric panel van, which cements its position as an innovator in the LCV market at the moment.

Categories: Renault / Kangoo /

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