Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have developed an innovative solution with the potential to change the way power is delivered to electric vehicles. The inductive charging method relies on a portable column that is placed ahead of the vehicle's front license plate.

Already found in certain small home appliances, inductive charging uses electromagnetic fields to transfer energy from one source to another. One induction coil, located in the power source, creates an alternating electromagnetic field, while a second coil draws the energy from the first to recharge a battery.

The originality of the charge spot created by Fraunhofer lies in the concentration of the technology needed to power a car within a relatively small yellow column that contains the stacked coils. The energy is received by another set of coils placed just behind the vehicle's front license plate. By design, this technology is compatible with all electric vehicles, from ultra-compact city cars to large SUVs.

In contrast, other inductive car charging platforms rely on costly and complex underground installations, such as the ones tested by certain car makers including Volvo. With their compact column, the engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute promise a solution that is more economical but also more practical, as it is portable and can be used anywhere.

For the time being, the system is only able to transmit three kilowatts (kW), far less than current wired charging stations. Still in the prototype stage, the technology will only be developed for the mass market if it can be produced and sold relatively cheaply.