There are many benefits to owning an electric vehicle over an internal combustion engine vehicle, but in most cases the charging experience isn’t one of them. Aside from the time it takes to recharge (charging from a household electrical outlet can extend hours), slogging around in the trunk in the dark or inclement weather looking for a charging cable isn’t much fun. Ram showed off its first electric truck at CES this year, and to accompany it, the automaker brought in an inductive charging robot. While this sounds like science fiction, it’s real, and it’s coming within the next two years.
Yes, a real robot, though we’re not talking flashy humanoid machines. Ram’s charger looks more like a Roomba than a Robocop, but its design is intentional. Inductive charging, whether it’s a smartphone or an EV, requires near-perfect alignment between the charger and the thing that needs to be charged. A slender rolling robot solves this problem and could make charging in crowded parking lots or garages easier because it won’t get clogged like traditional EV chargers.
Ram CEO Mike Koval told Green Car Report The brand’s customers are as concerned about the charging experience as they are about range. Stellantis is one of the very few automakers that doesn’t sell an EV, but that will change when the Ram 1500 Revolution and new electric Jeep models land in 2024. Green Car Report Pointing out that Stellantis made the leap from selling no EVs to developing an insanely advanced inductive charging robot is pretty remarkable in itself.
The automaker partnered with EFI Automotive to develop the component, which is said to have taken five years to flesh out—as fleshed out as a robot could, anyway. While we call it wireless charging, there is a cable powering the robot, and the wireless part is the “connection” between the vehicle and the charger.
We don’t know how fast an inductive charger can charge an EV, but EFI says the robot can achieve 97 percent efficiency because it makes contact with the vehicle rather than leaving a gap. The robot has a 32.8-foot cable and uses artificial intelligence to orient itself. Once in place, the robot’s charging pad is raised into contact with the vehicle.
EFI’s demo at CES featured a 7 kW charger, and the company says its system can extend EV battery life by 15%. Production will begin in 2025 with Ram’s range-extending Revolution pickup.