A white cargo van drives over a black asphalt road. An "x-ray" illustration shows the inductive coils inside the road as it drives over them.

Charging While Driving Now Possible In Michigan

Heavy vehicles like semi trucks pose a bigger challenge in electrifying the transportation fleet than smaller, more aerodynamic passenger cars. Michigan now has the first public in-road charging system in the United States to help alleviate this concern. [via Electrek]

Electreon, a company already active in Europe, won the contract to provide for the inductive coil-based charging system at the new Michigan Central Station research campus. Initial runs will be with a Ford E-Transit for testing, but there are plans to actually allow public use along the one mile (1.6 km) route in the near future.

Vehicles using the system need a special receiver, so we hope we’ll be seeing an open standard develop instead of having to have a different receiver for each road you drive on. This seems like it would be a more onerous swap than having to have three different toll road transponders. Unfortunately, the page about wireless standards on the Electreon website currently 404s, but CharIN, the standards body behind the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) did just launch a task force for wireless power delivery in September.

If you’re curious about other efforts at on-road charging, check out this slot car system in Sweden or another using pantographs.


A grey car sits in the background out of focus, its front facing the camera. It sits over an asphalt roadway with a metal rail extending from the foreground to behind the car in the distance. The rail has a two parallel slots and screws surrounding the slots running down the rail.

What Happened To Sweden’s Slot Car EV Road?

Many EVs can charge 80% of their battery in a matter of minutes, but for some applications range anxiety and charge time are still a concern. One possible solution is an embedded electrical rail in the road like the [eRoadArlanda] that Sweden unveiled in 2016.

Overhead electrical wires like those used in trolleys have been around since the 1800s, and there have been some tests with inductive coils in the roadway, but the 2 km [eRoadArlanda] takes the concept of the slot car to the next level. The top of the rail is grounded while the live conductor is kept well underground beneath the two parallel slots. Power is only delivered when a vehicle passes over the rail with a retractable contactor, reducing danger for pedestrians, animals, and other vehicles.

One of the big advantages of this technology being in the road bed is that both passenger and commercial vehicles could use it unlike an overhead wire system that would require some seriously tall pantographs for your family car. Testing over several Swedish winters shows that the system can shed snow and ice as well as rain and other road debris.

Unfortunately, the project’s website has gone dark, and the project manager didn’t respond when we reached out for comment. If there are any readers in Sweden with an update, let us know in the comments!

We’ve covered both overhead wire and embedded inductive coil power systems here before if you’re interested in EV driving with (virtually) unlimited range.

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Trucks Could Soon Run On Electrified Highways

Electric vehicles make for cleaner transport. However, they’re hung up by the limited range available from batteries. Long recharge times further compound the issue.

These issues are exacerbated when it comes to trucks hauling heavy goods. More payload means more weight, which means less range, or more batteries, which means less payload. Electric highways promise to solve this issue with the magic of overhead wires.

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