The viability of electric vehicles (EVs) is severely hampered by their limited range. Opportunity charging (OC) can extend the range of electric vehicles by making extra energy available to the EV during its operating cycle. Opportunity charge is a weightless substitute for energy that otherwise would have to be carried on the EV in a heavy battery. It can also extend battery life by limiting the depth of discharge, thus reducing the first and operating costs of EVs.
Opportunity charging must be convenient to use and free from hazards and excessive maintenance if it is to be widely implemented. Inductran Corporation has developed magnetically coupled systems that automatically charge EVs when they park at a charging station. These systems have provided high reliability and durability in industrial applications, and a prototype system for performing OC tests with a Vehma G-Van is now under development.
Several advancements in lead acid battery technology are needed if the full benefits of opportunity charging are to be realized. These advancements and a new approach to achieving them are discussed.