World’s first “electric road” for mobile EV charging launched in Sweden

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Sweden trials road-embedded EV charging technology, a solution it believes could solve problems of EV cost and range anxiety.

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Electric vehicle drivers in Sweden could soon be able to recharge their cars while driving, after the Scandinavian nation unveiled the world’s first public “electric road” on Wednesday.

The government-backed project is in the very early stages, and so far comprises just 2km of one public road, where an electric rail has been installed in the middle of one driving lane.

But the eRoadArlanda consortium behind the project argue that it holds considerable promise as a relatively cheap and easy solution to the niggling problems of EV cost and range anxiety, by allowing manufacturers to reduce battery size.

According to New Mobility News, the technology itself is fairly simple: a moveable arm, fitted to the bottom of the EV, delivers the electric charge when it connects with a metal rail embedded into the road – a bit like the mechanism used to propel toy slot cars. (See video below.)

When the vehicle moves away from its lane, the arm is automatically retracted. The technology can also calculate the amount of energy each car has consumed and debit it to the appropriate vehicle and user.

So far, the small stretch of test eRoad – which is on a route that connects the international freight airport of Stockholm Arlanda with a distribution centre at Rosersberg – is only being used by electric postal trucks belonging to PostNord.

But at a cost of €1 million per kilometre, the cost of rolling out the technology to more of Sweden’s roads and highways, and to the EV-driving public, is estimated to be 50 times lower than that required to construct an urban tram line.

It is also believed to be easier and cheaper to install – on both roads and cars – than charging by induction, or the overhead wire system Sweden experimented with two years ago.

Hans Säll, chief executive of the eRoadArlanda consortium, said existing vehicles and roadways both could be adapted to use the technology. But the roll-out on the nation’s roads would mostly be restricted to its highways.

“If we electrify 20,000km of highways that will definitely be be enough,” he told the Guardian. “The distance between two highways is never more than 45km and electric cars can already travel that distance without needing to be recharged. Some believe it would be enough to electrify 5,000km.”

For those concerned about the safety of the system, Säll says it is about as dangerous a a power outlet in the wall.

“Five or six centimetres down is where the electricity is. But if you flood the road with salt water then we have found that the electricity level at the surface is just one volt. You could walk on it barefoot,” he told the Guardian.

The Swedish government, meanwhile, is said to be in talks with Berlin about a future network.

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16 Comments
  1. Joe 5 months ago

    This brings back memories of ‘The Scalextric’ in the family loungeroom in my younger years.

    • Nick Kemp 5 months ago

      That would sort out the self driving thing too although if my childhood memories are indicative there will be lots of cars falling off the road in the bends

      • Joe 5 months ago

        Nick, it seems that I am not alone with my reminiscing of younger years. Hitting the bends at high speed, always a challenge for youngster ‘would be F1’ drivers in the loungeroom…..damn well lot of fun it was though!

  2. MaxG 5 months ago

    I see a lot of short circuits; rain, salt, dirt… what am I missing?

    • solarguy 5 months ago

      You’re not missing anything. I had a similar idea a year ago, but with one important twist…………..induction charging from under the road surface, so no chance of electrocution or shorts.

      What Nick has said above, that soon enough battery range will be far superior, may be right.

      • happosai 5 months ago

        Whenever there is a physical connection, there is wear and tear. 100km/h cars with a leg in means replacing the rail every few years. It would seem that induction would be much cheaper to maintain over years.

    • Mike Shackleton 5 months ago

      Well, they do a similar thing with trams now so as to avoid needing overhead lines. The London Underground works on an electrified third rail and they have lines open to the elements.

      • MaxG 5 months ago

        Sorry, can’t see it… I am in electrical / electronics for decades… the tube is different, with relative restricted access to the power. but the open road? for the latter tempering would be easy… an then: the range problem won’t be an issue for along, making this thing redundant. — But then, I am happy to be proven wrong.

  3. Charles Black 5 months ago

    Stupid.
    Might as well have a charging truck pull up along side and toss a cable.

  4. Nick 5 months ago

    No doubt that it is a cool idea, but it just isn’t necessary. ev range is already half decent and it is in it’s infancy. This won’t be needed at all. In 10-15 years EV range will easily sufpass ICE.

    • Ben C 5 months ago

      good point

    • Chris Schneider 5 months ago

      What it will do though is reduce the charge time. If you never have to charge won’t it be better? You can then simply pull over for food or anything and know that your car will be full.

      If there was 50km of this road every 200-300km long trips would be amazing. You could stop for lunch and a top up but know that really the car is full anyway.

      It would also allow the energy grid to offload and use the batteries in the car, while they are driving.

      This will be even more important when we have self driving cars. The cars won’t need to go to a charge port for 30 minutes. They can drive the entire time.

  5. handbaskets'r'us 5 months ago

    Careful where you relieve yourself… Perhaps carrying a generator in the boot would suffice? Lots of super ideas for modernising transport. Elon better watch out!

  6. stucrmnx120fshwf 5 months ago

    Just doing some math, a million $ a km, 20,000 km, $20 billion, 7 million users, $3,000 per user, to save $6,000 per user, on upfront battery costs, plus the advantages to public transport, freight transportation. But there’s maintenance costs, which are less than those for trams, as the users, are supplying the vehicles, there are no rail furrows to clean. Possible, but not absolutely compelling, at 5,000 km, $600 per user, to save $2,500 on upfront battery costs, more compelling, with less power line distance, to maintain. So blending the advantages of electric vehicles and grid cars, with their lower maintenance and lower fueling costs, could be compelling enough.

  7. Ian 5 months ago

    Every idea that may help wean humanity off oil etc is welcomed. In the bad old FF days when choices and options were limited, one technology fitted all. It was liquid fueled vehicles virtually to the exclusion of all others. Now the options have opened up. EV, Ebus, trams, light rail, monorail, hyperloop, heavy rail, bicycles, ebikes, the list goes on. Maybe this scalectric thingy will find its niche.

    Personally I would like a return to water canals with whole suburban areas set around canal systems . Holland would be a good place to start with hundreds of km2 floating homes on shallow waterways with all the wetlands, floating tree planters, parks integrated in a vast floating city. Waterfront is a premium these days and people want more than roads and sidewalks in their cityscape.

  8. Mike I 5 months ago

    Seems ideal for a garage.

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