Detroit starts real world electric road charging trial
Detroit just witnessed the installation of America's first-ever wireless electrified roadway. The quarter-mile stretch of electrified road, which operates similarly to a wireless charging pad in the simplest terms, is a result of partnership between the City of Detroit, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and Israeli company Electreon, which develops wireless charging solutions for electric vehicles.
Dr. Stefan Tongur, Vice President of Business Development for Electreon, expressed his excitement about this pioneering venture, stating, "We're excited to spearhead the development and deployment of America's first wireless charging road." This project's significance lies in addressing the challenges of limited range, bringing us closer to a future where EVs become the norm.
Stretching a quarter-mile along 14th Street in Detroit's historic Corktown neighborhood, this electrified roadway boasts a seamless and safe charging experience. Concerns about interference with other vehicles, pedestrians, or wildlife are laid to rest by Electreon's technology, which activates only when a car with a receiver passes over the charging coils, ensuring energy is transferred only to vehicles that require it.
The partnership between Michigan and Electreon dates back to September 2021 when Governor Gretchen Whitmer envisioned the nation's first wireless charging infrastructure. Under a five-year plan, Electreon and MDOT are now working to create an extensive electric road system.
Testing of this wireless charging technology is slated to commence in 2024, featuring a Ford E-Transit electric commercial van. This trial will assess efficiency, operational feasibility, and long-term prospects for public transportation.
How does this road-charging innovation work, you ask? When a vehicle with a receiver approaches the charging segments, the coils beneath the road transfer electricity through a magnetic field, replenishing the vehicle's battery. Notably, these coils activate only when a vehicle equipped with a receiver passes over them, ensuring safety for all road users.
Electreon's wireless charging technology isn't exclusive to Detroit; the company has similar roadways planned or in operation in Israel, Sweden, Italy, and Germany. The global presence of such projects underscores the universal appeal of wireless charging as a means to unlock widespread EV adoption.
As the popularity of electric vehicles continues to surge across the United States, the Biden administration's ambitious plan to establish half a million EV charging stations aligns with the ongoing innovation in Detroit.
Michigan DOT Director Bradley C Wieferich emphasized the state's commitment to leading the curve, stating, "In Michigan, we want to stay ahead of the curve. We want to lead the curve." With this cutting-edge technology, Detroit and Michigan are doing just that.
The wireless electrified roadway in Detroit promises to make charging more convenient, and while we doubt wireless charging can have significant throughput, having it on major roads could result in a welcome range boost for a lot of EV drivers. Will it happen next week? Absolutely not, we are years away from wider rollout but projects like this one are needed to figure out the weak points and if at all this tech has a future in transport. After all, we were skeptical about first phone wireless chargers - look at us now.
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