Electric cars could share their batteries while driving

Will charging stations for electric cars become useless? Researchers have imagined a shared refueling system, where cars exchange their electricity thanks to a telescopic arm and a “remuneration” in the form of credit. What reduce the necessary size of batteries and therefore the cost of cars.

Fighter planes are sometimes refueled in flight during long missions: a supply plane approaches the aircraft and deploys a pole or a flexible tube to fill the tank. So why not do the same for electric cars ? Researchers at the University of Florida have imagined a sharing system where cars connect to a network by exchanging their electricity, forming a gigantic “shared battery” rather than thousands of individual batteries. Named P2C2 ( Peer-to-Peer Car Charging ), the concept described on the pre-publication platform arXiv rests on magnetic telescopic arms, which deploy between two vehicles that follow each other when one of them needs to refuel.

An “electricity credit” paid into your account

An idea that smells good of science fiction but which already exists. Volkswagen recently presented a mobile charging station that would supply electric cars in car parks, and the Italian company Andromeda markets a transportable charger in the trunk of a vehicle to recharge a broken down car using a cable. American researchers go further, imagining a convoy of electric cars fully automated and controlled by softwareclever. Each battery would be linked to a giant “cloud”, which would redistribute electricity between vehicles as needed. So that the “donor” is not penalized, he would be allocated a usable electricity credit on a next trip.

Expensive charging stations and too long stops

The current range of electric cars does not exceed 500 kilometers  for the best models. It then takes almost 10 hours to recharge the battery with a 220 volt outlet . Even on a fast charging station , it takes a good hour to wait to recover around 200 kilometers of autonomy. Not to mention that these terminals are rare and very expensive to install (between 10,000 and 30,000 euros).

Worse, these costly facilities remain largely unused, according to a report from the Ministry of Ecological Transition . Third problem: full charge-discharge cycles lead to premature aging of lithium-ion batteries. Finally, increasing autonomy goes through ever larger, heavier and more expensive batteries, which increases the vehicle’s electrical consumption and drives prices up.

65% less number of stops

In short, all of this is highly ineffective according to Swarup Bhunia and his colleagues. The team carried out a simulation of their system in different scenarios (low traffic, medium traffic, high traffic) involving electric cars with batteries with a capacity of 75 kWh, as well as 850 kWh charging trucks located at the head convoy.

According to their calculations, the P2C2 makes it possible to make 65% fewer stops on the route and to reduce the capacity of the batteries by 25% while maintaining the same autonomy. It remains to convince users to adopt such a concept, which would in any case be possible only with semi-autonomous vehicles. However, to be profitable, a maximum of cars must be connected. This also raises the question of private data,