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New Street Charges Electric Vehicles While They Drive

Road Warrior

Engineers have turned an otherwise unnoteworthy stretch of road in downtown Detroit into what's being hailed as the first wireless-charging public road in the United States.

Massive copper coils, much like the scaled-down ones inside your wireless phone charger, are hidden beneath the surface to charge EVs while they're stationary, idling, or even driving.

In a demonstration, a modified Ford E-Transit van that was outfitted with special receivers got as much as 19 kilowatts of power while driving down the road, albeit for only a short time.

But while the technology, developed by Israel-based wireless charging company Electreon, has already been shown to work, we're likely still many years out before it can be implemented at a much larger scale, especially considering the significant inefficiencies and costs involved.

Unlimited Range

As part of the five-year collaboration with the Department of Transportation, Electreon is hoping to use the quarter-mile test segment in downtown Detroit to drive the adoption of electric cars.

"Alongside Michigan’s automotive expertise, we’ll demonstrate how wireless charging unlocks widespread EV adoption, addressing limited range, grid limitations, and battery size and costs," Stefan Tongur, Electreon vice president of business development, told the Associated Press.

"This project paves the way for a zero-emission mobility future, where EVs are the norm, not the exception," he added.

By having the roads wirelessly charge the cars on them, the hope is to reduce the need for additional electric car chargers. That's especially important considering the many places where public chargers simply aren't available yet in the US, despite major investments made by the Biden administration.

Instead of converting stretches of highway, Electreon is focusing on wirelessly charging stationary vehicles at bus stops or city intersections since the prolonged proximity between coil and receiver makes the process more efficient.

Though it's a first for America, it's far from the first wirelessly-charging road in the world. The concept has been around for many years, with Sweden unveiling the first electrified road in the world back in 2018.

Electreon also installed wireless coils in a road in Germany back in 2020 as well to power a public bus line in the city of Karlsruhe.

Whether lawmakers will be impressed by Electreon's project in Detroit remains to be seen. The US has grown increasingly divided on the adoption of EVs, making its future in the country more uncertain than ever — and that'll likely tamper the enthusiasm for cutting-edge wireless charging tech as well.

More on wireless charging roads: The Wireless Charging of Moving Electric Vehicles Just Overcame A Major Hurdle