Detroit, the iconic Motor City, has once again positioned itself at the forefront of automotive innovation. This time, it’s by introducing the nation’s first wireless-charging public roadway for electric vehicles (EVs). This groundbreaking project, unveiled in the historic Corktown neighborhood, marks a significant leap forward in EV technology and infrastructure.
A Quarter-Mile Showcase
The demonstration, which took place on a quarter-mile stretch of 14th Street near the majestic Michigan Central Station, showcased a blue electric Ford E-Transit commercial van charging wirelessly as it drove. This technological marvel is made possible by rubber-coated copper coils buried beneath the road surface. During the demonstration, a large video screen displayed the kilowatts generated and the van’s speed, offering a real-time glimpse into the future of EV charging.
Interestingly, the van used in the demonstration was equipped with a special receiver to pick up the charge from the coils. A section of the road was intentionally left unpaved to reveal how these coils are seamlessly integrated beneath the surface. Additionally, two large boxes on the sidewalk managed the coils, illustrating the system’s complexity and sophistication.
This project is part of a broader public-private partnership aimed at demonstrating the practicality of this type of EV charging infrastructure. It’s a follow-up to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement in September 2021 about launching the country’s first wireless-charging road project. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is collaborating with Israel’s Electreon and other partners to extend this technology to a mile of inductive-charging roadway, with further construction planned on Michigan Avenue for 2025.
Electreon’s Role and Global Impact
Electreon, already implementing similar projects in countries like Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, China, and Israel, is at the forefront of this technology. Stefan Tongur, Electreon’s Vice President of Business Development, emphasized the system’s safety, noting that each coil is individually connected and only activates when a vehicle equipped with a sensor is directly above it. The road surface, he pointed out, is regular asphalt, underscoring the system’s integration into existing infrastructure.
The inductive-charging roadway is not seen as a complete solution for EV charging infrastructure but rather as a range extender. This technology could allow automakers to reduce battery sizes, potentially lowering vehicle costs while adding to infrastructure expenses. The project’s cost is currently estimated at $1.9 million in state funds, with an additional $4 million from the Electreon team and other contributors.
MDOT Director Brad Wieferich hailed the project as revolutionary for EVs. The state and its partners view this endeavor as a springboard for further learning and scaling up the technology. This initiative is a testament to Michigan’s commitment to embracing clean energy and innovative transportation solutions.
In conclusion, Detroit’s wireless-charging road project represents a significant advancement in EV infrastructure. It’s a pioneering step that not only enhances the practicality of electric vehicles but also signals a shift towards more sustainable and technologically advanced transportation solutions. As this project evolves, it could very well set the standard for future EV charging systems worldwide, once again reaffirming Detroit’s status as a leader in automotive innovation.