Electric cars get a jolt of hope

The history of the electric car dates back to 1828, when a Hungarian named Ányos Jedlik invented a small-scale model car powered by an electric motor. That was decades before Henry Ford was even born!

Despite its early beginnings, though, the electric car has never caught on in any major way. You can blame political factors like the ridiculous power of oil companies, or more practical matters like the paucity of charging stations. But even modern electric cars like Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt haven’t made the kind of strong entrance electric-car fans would have liked.

Now, though, that might be changing. A team at Stanford has designed a high-efficiency charging system that uses magnetic fields to wirelessly transmit electric current between road and car using between metal coils planted several feet apart.

Yeah, yeah, I know: Every other day we hear on the news about some fascinating and utterly useless research that is supposed to change the way we live. And then, somehow, it never does.

The results of this study could be different because, in theory, it could facilitate the building of all-electric highways. The cars and trucks that drive on them would be charged as they drove, eliminating that teeny-tiny problem of finding charging stations every 100 miles or so before your car stalls on the freeway.

Now, if only there were a study that showed us to how to reduce the oversized influence of the oil barons, the country could be well on her way to a fully electric fleet in just a few decades time.