Looking to change the entirety of how electric vehicles (EVs) receive energy, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and charging infrastructure vendor Electreon have opened what is billed as the first U.S. road to be outfitted with integrated wireless EV charging infrastructure.
In the city of Detroit, 14th Street is now equipped with inductive-charging coils between Marantette and Dalzelle Streets. This will charge EVs equipped with Electreon receivers as they drive down the road. The goal is to test how wireless charging technology works in a real-world environment before making it available to the public in the coming years.
The idea of dynamic charging on roads is not new as the concept has been tested numerous times throughout the past five years, including a wireless bus test in Washington back in 2018. But the concept has never been made on a large scale in the U.S. on public roads.
The development of the wireless charging public road began in 2021 with a five-year commitment between the MDOT and Electreon to pilot the project. The road will help the adoption of EVs but also seek to:
- Address limited range issues
- Help grid limitations
- Manage battery sizes
- Reduce the cost of EV charging infrastructure
“This project paves the way for a zero-emission mobility future, where EVs are the norm, not the exception,” said Stefan Tongur, VP of business development at Electreon.
Under the agreement with Electreon and the MDOT, a combined mile of inductive-charging roadway will be installed in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood along 14th Street.
Currently a quarter-mile segment is installed on the road that runs alongside Newlab at the Michigan Central Building, which houses 60 tech and mobility startups. Additionally, Electreon has installed two static inductive charging stations at the Michigan Central Station that can charge Electreon-equipped vehicles while parked.
In 2024, MDOT will seek bids to rebuild part of the street with inductive charging installations. Meanwhile, work will continue through the end of 2023 on 14th Street with testing expected to ramp up in 2024 using a Ford E-transit van to test the efficiency and operations of the charging network in advance of a long-term public transportation project.
Electreon’s technology is based on inductive coupling between copper coils that are installed below the road surface and receivers that are installed on EVs. When an EV with a receiver nears the in-road charging segments, the road transfers electricity wirelessly through a magnetic field.
This electricity is then transferred as energy to the EV’s battery. The segments can transfer wireless electricity to the receiver either when the vehicle is parked or as it is driving, also known as dynamic charging. The coil in the road is only activated when an EV with an approved receiver passes over the coil, meaning pedestrians, wildlife and drivers will not be affected.