Peter Kadhammar, an award-winning journalist based in Stockholm, was on hand at the launch event for our Swedish trials. The headline for his article in AftonBladet (a Swedish daily newspaper) reads “This Plate Charges an Electric Car – As Easily as a Mobile Phone.” The full English translation is below (special thanks to Johan Wedlin from our trial partner Victoria Swedish ICT).
This Plate Charges an Electric Car – As Easily as a Mobile Phone
Perhaps the most important event of the decade occurred outside Stockholm City Hall on Thursday morning. I was there. It might be such a moment that, when I talk about it in the future, was the day that society changed.
And yet it was so casual, almost dull.
In attendance was Stockholm environment commissioner Katarina Luhr, dashing in the way politicians can be. There were researchers, public-relations staff and an American entrepreneur, as well as Vattenfall’s research director Karl Bergman who wore a dark suit, orange tie, orange socks and orange laces.
First, they gathered in a room on the second floor and spoke how well they cooperated.
Then they went down a flight of stairs, past a bicycle storage room and stood in the cold sun next to a purple car that was parked above a gray plastic plate.
A class of students sat along a red brick wall and ate their lunches. Down by the water a Japanese tourist group followed their guide who was holding up a sign.
That gray plastic plate was a charging station, a transmitter of electricity and the purple electric car, a Chevrolet Volt, had been modified with a charging receiver. With this technology it will be as easy to recharge an electric car as it is to put a cell phone on a charging pad.
The technology was developed by a US company and has been tested for two years. Stockholm and Gothenburg municipalities will now evaluate the plates as pioneers in Europe. The City of Stockholm will match five tiles to five electric cars.
It sounds simple enough, but the technology for mobile telephones did not stir up the public initially, nor did the first computers which were mainly used as advanced typewriters and calculators.
When communism fell in 1989, the telephone network in the East German city of Dresden had not been upgraded since the 1920’s. It was antiquated and worn out. It was too expensive to build new lines, which was the reason why people in poor countries often lacked telephones.
Then came mobile phones and all you needed to do was put up a cell tower. Now we can call even the most remote village in Africa.
We are trying to get away from dependence on oil. We have tried ethanol. We have tried biogas. Both require large facilities and huge investments.
To build a simple unmanned petrol station costs around four million Swedish Crowns.
The price of the charging pad outside the City Hall is just under 20,000 Swedish Crowns. It is high. Mass production is not yet running and the price will be significantly reduced.
“In the future, we can have charging plates buried in the taxi parking spots in the city,” said Katarina Luhr. “We may have in-street charging lanes so cars can charge while they roll.”
The plate records which car recharges and bills the owner automatically.
The technology is not even particularly complicated.
“The challenge has been to get the driver-machine interaction right,” said Rebecca Hough, CEO of U.S. based Evatran Group. “It‘s now easy to position the car over the charging plate, nothing elaborate. It should go fast.”
I want to believe that it was the death of gas-powered cars – a bulky polluting machine dating back to the 1800’s – that I saw outside the City Hall.
By Peter Kadhammar of AftonBladet
Photos courtesy of Viktoria Swedish ICT
 Approx. $400,000
 Approx. $2,000