This paper begins with a discussion of the problems caused by congestion and pollution on the roads of major urban areas in North America, and some of the ways and means of alleviating an impending crisis situation are reviewed. It is argued that electric vehicles can play a role. Recognizing the limitations of electrochemical energy storage technology, it is noted that non-contact energy transfer to automobiles would be advantageous. An open E-core transformer, as used in the Santa Barbara bus project is considered to be a favourable transfer mechanism. A spread-sheet based design study is reported. This approach was validated by comparing experimental results from a 75% scale model of the energy transfer device and finite element numerical analysis. A preferred design is presented, and is shown to be technically feasible by meeting a set of reasonable specifications and guidelines for automobiles. The problems are shown to be associated with high frequency excitation and the large (5 cm) airgap, requiring high magnetizing current for effective power transfer. Some means of improving the design are suggested.