by Eric Cohen
To date, our passionate group of WiTricity Chargers have all been stateside, but enthusiasm for wireless charging stretches far beyond U.S. shores to Europe and beyond. Tom Reaney, a spirited Irishman who lives in the picturesque town of Claremorris on the west coast of Ireland couldn’t be more excited about wireless charging. “It will definitely improve the quality of my life,” he says. Let’s find out why.
Tom has always been interested in automobiles. Perhaps this grew out of the love for his father’s 1961 Ford Zodiac. His early goal was to design the next super sports roadster – starting with a hot rod version of the Zodiac while in his 20’s! To that end, he spent a summer as a student working at Ford in England but quickly realized he’d be a very small cog in a very big wheel. “I didn’t want to spend my life being a door lock designer.” Rather, Tom decided to pursue a career in automation, which led to working for Hyster in America on automated guided vehicles (AGVs). Long before most people were thinking about autonomous cars, Tom was laying the groundwork for an autonomous future. “It’s inspiring to see the work I was doing 40 years ago now coming to fruition.”
Unfortunately, Tom suffered a fall in 2014 that resulted in critical care myopathy and landed him in a wheelchair. With no use of his legs or right hand, Tom is enthusiastic about wireless charging. “I love cars and anything that makes dealing with them easier. I’m particularly excited that wireless charging will make life easier for my wife. Park and charge? Brilliant.”
While we’re on the subject of convenience, it rains a lot in Ireland – nearly 46 inches a year in Claremorris. “I don’t drive anymore, but I can’t imagine my wife having to get out of the car, in the cold and rain, to charge an electric vehicle. The idea that all she has to do is drive over a pad to charge our car is brilliant. Simply brilliant.”
The popularity of electric vehicles in Ireland is growing – but maybe not as fast as the government hopes. This could be because people are concerned about limits on driving distances, the initial purchase cost, and the perceived inconvenience (and potential cost) of charging the battery; the availability of reliable, working charging stations for longer journeys is also an issue.  Tom is seeing more electric vehicles become available in the West and is looking forward to more charging capabilities in his small town of 4,000. “There’s one public charging point and a couple chargers at hotels and supermarkets. I look forward to having a charger in my garage for my first EV, a Mercedes EQA. But, more importantly, I look forward to Mercedes including wireless charging on all its electric vehicles. Why bother messing with cables and pressing buttons when you don’t have to? Park and charge. Brilliant.”
Tom says that when he thinks of one word to describe wireless charging, it’s “convenient.” Based on our conversation, I think it’s “brilliant.” Maybe it’s both.