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Wireless Charging Roads Installed in America

CGI of an orange EV driving across a green lane on the motorway featuring wireless charging
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Feb 07, 2024
4 minutes read

Detroit has had a facelift on 14th Street, where EVs will no longer need to plug in to charge. This is now the first public road in America where electric vehicles will be able to charge wirelessly. Working as a pilot, the ¼ mile stretch of road is a proof of concept to see whether it will be feasible to implement on a wider basis.

How Wireless Charging Works

Underneath the tarmac are electromagnetic coils that have been connected to the electricity grid. These produce an electromagnetic field that sits above the surface of the road. When compatible EVs drive across it, the battery is charged through an inductive process. This is exactly the same system with wireless phone charging.

Why Has This Been Done?

At a staggering cost of £1.6 million per mile, it’s a fair question to ask why this has been done. With several barriers preventing consumers from switching from a fossil fuel vehicle, many minds have been set on finding creative ways to make the switch easier.

Range anxiety is often brought up as the most significant barrier that stops people from buying an EV. It’s not enough to simply have a large battery because it will need to be charged time and time again. When on long journeys, this anxiety reaches new heights.

The point of the wireless charging stretch of road is to make it easier for drivers to continue on long journeys without having to worry about charging. Stopping and waiting at least half an hour for a rapid charger adds unnecessary aggravation to a long trip. With the potential for wireless charging roads to be the future, this could do away with plug-in charging altogether.

“The evolution of charging will be going from cord to wireless. And we will have roads that can charge vehicles while they drive – and where they park.”

Stefan Tongur – Vice President of Business Development at Electreon

Testing the Waters

This pilot scheme was mostly funded by the Michigan Department of Transit, who supplied £1.5 million towards the project. Electreon contributed the rest and is set on providing at least a mile stretch of road over the next few years as a way of testing the technology in the real world.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is hoping for the city to become carbon neutral by 2050. There will be a huge push for EVs and a reliable charging network by 2030, which will include 100,000 chargers as well as wireless charging roads.

Cost Effectiveness

With a mile stretch of wireless charging road coming in at £1.6 million, there is serious doubt about the scalability of the technology. Implementing smart roads throughout an urban environment would prove to be unrealistic, especially at current prices.

However, as the technology develops, it’s believed that prices would start to become more affordable. Tongur expects wireless road charging to fall to £0.9 million per mile and £790 per receiver in future as more wireless roads are added.

What’s more, not every road or every stretch would have to have these electromagnetic coils added to them. The strategic placement of smart roads where it would make the most sense would help cut emissions and improve the range of vehicles driving along it.

It’s been analysed that a 155–186 mile smart road would reduce the carbon emissions of lorries by more than 200,000 tonnes. However, at current prices, this would cost a staggering £250–£300 million.

Charging Speeds

Currently, Electreon, the company who is installing these roads across America, Europe and Asia, is able to achieve charging speeds of 35kW per receiver. The dynamic charging model allows buses or lorries with three receivers to get up to 100kW of charge whilst driving. This could be a game changer across several miles in areas where charging stations are limited.

Get a Home EV Charger

While you probably don’t have a spare couple of million to implement wireless charging where you live, you can always install an EV charger at home. This is still the cheapest way to charge your electric vehicle, and can come at a speed to suit your car.

Find out how much you’d pay for an EV charger by clicking on the button below.