Us geek types have been banging on about for iPods and mobile phones for ages now, but it would appear the technology has filtered down to cars. US company Evatran recently unveiled an extremely cool 'hands-free' charging system designed to re-juice without the need for cables.
The system consists of two elements -- a Plugless Power vehicle adaptor, specific to your model of car, and a charging station with a floor-mounted magnetic charging block. When the driver pulls up, the parking block automatically positions itself to alight with the vehicle adaptor and begins feeding it electricity.
The system has numerous benefits over traditional wired charging. Firstly, there's no risk of vandalising or tripping over cables. Secondly, the risk of electrocution is almost nonexistent, due to the fact no electricity actually flows between the charging station and the car -- it's all done via magnets and induction and fairy dust.
Sadly, there are disadvantages too. Inductive charging is around 10 per cent less efficient than wired charging, so the Plugless Power system uses slightly more energy to compensate. Luckily, the capacity of an electric car's battery to accept charge isn't affected by a loss in efficiency, so cars using Plugless Power will charge in the same amount of time as a wired system.
Evatran's Plugless Power scheme is currently enjoying field trials in Virginia in the US, though the company hopes to enter full production in early 2011.