Electric roads could be way to driverless future
Israel And Sweden Experiment With A New Way To Increase The Uses Of Electric Cars
Beit Yannai (Israel): Electric vehicles can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, at least in theory. But challenges to wide acceptance remain significant: Batteries are expensive, charging stations are few and far between, and recharging takes far more time than a fillup at the pump.
Atechnological breakthrough is needed, and many companies are working on ways to make charging faster and travel range longer. Advances have been frustratingly slow. A small Israeli start-up called Electreon has another idea: electrify the roads to recharge vehicles as they are driven.
At its test site on a boarding school campus outside Tel Aviv, the company has placed copper coils under 900 feet of circular pavement that transmit recharging wireless energy to an electric Renault Zoe test car as it drivers by.
Since there are countless miles of road around the world, Electreon is aiming to electrify urban bus and shuttle routes first, in an effort to clean Israel’s city air and reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil.
Over time, Electreon executives hope to go global and make “all-electric city transport” the wave of the future.
“This project has the potential to move the electrification revolution to mass implementation,” said Noam Ilan, a company co-founder and vice president for business development.
But first Electreon is taking baby steps with two separate pilot projects planned.
The city of Tel Aviv and the local, private Dan bus company are planning to deploy a mile of electrified road at the end of the year and gradually expand deployment of the coils to specified lanes around the city for buses, trucks and eventually autonomous cars. The Israeli Ministry of Transportation has granted $2 million in seed money for the project, while Dan has contributed an electric bus and invested $3.3 million in Electreon.
Sweden is planning a similar project on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland using Electreon technology to recharge an airport shuttle bus supplied by Dan and an electric truck at a cost of $12 million, mostly financed by the Swedish government. The test will be an initial step in Sweden’s plans to eventually build more than a thousand miles of electrified high-speed highways at a cost of $3 billion.
Up to now, wireless charging has been mostly limited to parked vehicles. Electric cars are becoming more popular around the world. But battery-charged buses have barely made a dent in the global market outside of China, which has developed a large fleet with government subsidies and other incentives.
If proven to be economically viable, Electreon’s “smart roads” concept could revolutionise urban public transportation. “The future for us is autonomous shuttles and trucks with tiny batteries, no driver and 24-7 operations. Drivers are going to disappear,” Ilan said.
A start-up is electrifying the roads to recharge vehicles as they are driven