New York City Will Zap Your Electric Car With Power From Manhole Covers

A small company, HEVO Power, has gotten a greenlight to study the possibility of charging parked electric vehicles through the street. But that’s just a first step toward roads that charge our cars as we drive.

Electric vehicle charging stations that look like manhole covers may be coming to New York City as early as 2014, if all goes according to Jeremy McCool’s plan.


Five years ago, McCool came home from Iraq after fighting during the troop surge of 2007. It was there, he says, that he made a promise to do whatever he could to reduce national reliance on foreign fuels. After a $25,000 grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs that McCool invested in research and development, he now has an EV charging prototype to embed in city streets.

His company, HEVO Power, has developed a manhole charging device that runs on the kind of electromagnetic wireless charging technology outlined in a book by Wright State University’s Marian Kazimierczuk and New York University Polytechnic Institute (NYU-Poly) professor Dariusz Czarkowski.

“It works in the way a tuning fork would work,” explains McCool. The charge consists of two coils: One connected to the grid in the manhole cover, and the other on the electric vehicle. When the car runs over the manhole, the coils conduct a “handshake,” and the manhole delivers a charge on that frequency to the car.

McCool says the device provides a more efficient, powerful, and safe way to charge an electric vehicle, though HEVO has yet to test the device in the real world. He’s teamed up with NYU-Poly to develop the technology, and with NYU medical labs to make sure the device was safe for living things. The university is looking to shift its public safety vehicles over to an all-electric fleet, McCool says, which hopefully his device could serve.

HEVO’s other strategy is to court delivery fleets, and so far, McCool says his company has commitments from seven, including PepsiCo, Walgreens, and City Harvest, to develop a pilot program. The logic is that if electric delivery trucks can charge at regular pick-up and drop-off points (“green loading zones”) in front of stores, those fleets should be able to travel greater distances without stopping, or having to go out of their way, for a boost.

Glasgow’s Economic Development Corps is also exploring the idea of the technology in Scotland, McCool says, and in order to test the chargers in New York City in early 2014, HEVO has applied for a $250,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The organization has already granted a feasibility study for the green loading zones.


If NYC pilot gets the greenlight and it proves successful, HEVO’s got plenty of other ambitious ideas in the works.

What if, for example, you could embed this kind of charge in highways? McCool says HEVO’s already developed proof of concept for that: “The concept is simple,” McCool says. “There is a way to provide wireless charging in an HOV lane. That’s a small strip at every yard or so that has another wireless charging plate, so as you go down the street you’re collecting a charge. One wireless charging highway.”

HEVO technology still has much to prove, and there hasn’t been any major infrastructure project yet (that we know of) that uses electromagnetic charging in this way. But last week the company won the Clean Tech Open semi-finals, and hey, we already know that having EV charging stations in front of stores attracts deep pockets. “This is an iterative process,” McCool says. “This is just the first step.”


About the author

Sydney Brownstone is a Seattle-based former staff writer at Co.Exist. She lives in a Brooklyn apartment with windows that don’t quite open, and covers environment, health, and data.