Hybrid-electric vehicles are expected to explode in popularity over the next decade thanks to their gasoline-saving abilities. But Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) thinks that battery-powered cars aren’t the answer to our energy crisis. Instead, KAIST has developed a new kind of electric vehicle that forgoes batteries entirely and instead relies on power from cables buried beneath the road.

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The On Line Electric Vehicle (OLEV) project, unveiled last Thursday, consists of a set of electric buses that pass over power coil-containing tracks. Once the buses cross the tracks, they’re given a boost of electricity that allows them to keep moving without having to stop and recharge.

If the OLEV project catches on, it could revolutionize the electric vehicle industry. Battery-powered vehicles have to constantly stop for recharging–a problem that will ultimately require an infrastructure of electric charging stations. The vehicles also contain lithium, which will inevitably become more expensive as electric cars gain in popularity.

With OLEV, strain on the power grid is reduced and lithium is preserved. KAIST believes that if half of all automobiles in Korea are converted to the OLEV system, the country can cut crude oil imports by $3 billion each year. Now if only KAIST can do the same for countries like the U.S.!


Via Designboom