Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Tina Casey headshot

Park Your Electric Truck on a Manhole Cover to Charge It

Wireless electric vehicle charging is beginning to trickle into the market, which adds an appealing convenience factor that conventional gas-powered cars just can't match. Meanwhile, consolidation in the retail gas sector has resulted in a long-term decline in the number of gas stations, while the number of public, private, and workplace EV charging stations has been skyrocketing. In other words, wireless or not, charging up an EV is quickly becoming a far more convenient exercise for both commercial operations and individual consumers.

With that in mind, let's take a look at a company called HEVO Power, which is offering an innovative approach to wireless EV charging for fleet vehicles.

HEVO Power's wireless EV charging station

Aside from the convenience factor of not having to exit the vehicle in order to charge it up, wireless charging offers some infrastructure advantages over conventional EV charging stations.

Namely, wireless chargers don't need to be situated in a standalone or wall-mounted charging station. They can simply be embedded in an existing paved surface, without taking up any other space. That's a plus for fleet operators located in densely developed areas, where space is at a premium.

HEVO takes that concept a step farther. Rather than having the charger visible on the surface, HEVO has designed a charging system that is located entirely underneath the pavement, topped off by the company's signature "manhole cover."

That protects the charger against wear and tear, and makes it more resistant to theft or vandalism.

By hiding the charger underground, HEVO has also created a product that alleviates something we'll call "wireless charging anxiety." Wireless chargers are safe, but admittedly it's a little hard to wrap your head around the idea that you can step directly onto a wireless EV charging station without giving yourself a nasty shock. That factor barely comes into play if the charger is hidden beneath the surface.

Wireless charging and fleet vehicles

HEVO's wireless charging solution also dovetails with two related initiatives that the Obama Administration has been promoting. One, called Clean Fleets, encourages companies to transition their fleets to electric vehicles and other clean fuels. It kicked off in partnership with heavyhitters AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS and Verizon. A follow-up round of Clean Fleets partnerships included Coca-Cola, Enterprise Holdings, General Electric, OSRAM SYLVANIA, Ryder, and Staples.

The other initiative is the Workplace Charging Challenge, which launched earlier this year with 3M, Chrysler Group, Duke Energy, Eli Lilly and Company, Ford, GE, GM, Google, Nissan, San Diego Gas & Electric, Siemens, Tesla, and Verizon as partners.

The aim of this initiative is to establish demonstration sites and best practices models that other companies can follow, so they don't have to re-invent the wheel to establish a workplace charging infrastructure. That's an especially big assist for smaller companies with limited resources.

That's where HEVO's charger could add an interesting angle. In addition to making charging stations available to employees, many worksites could incorporate charging stations for delivery vehicles.

To that end, HEVO is pitching a "green delivery zone" concept that underscores the advantages of a pavement-embedded wireless charging station. Basically, the idea is that the embedded charging station eliminates the risk of having a delivery truck operator back into a charging station kiosk.

It's also a plus for companies with delivery fleets, which could charge up as needed along their routes, rather than making a separate trip.

[Image: Wireless EV charging station courtesy of HEVO Power]

Follow me on Twitter and Google+.

Tina Casey headshotTina Casey

Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.

Read more stories by Tina Casey

More stories from Data & Technology