In a groundbreaking development, crews have successfully installed the first wireless-charging public roadway for electric vehicles (EVs) beneath a street in Detroit. This technological advancement allows vehicles equipped with receivers to charge their batteries while driving, idling, or parking above the specially designed copper inductive charging coils. The quarter-mile segment of 14th Street in downtown Detroit will serve as a testing ground to perfect the technology before making it available to the public in the near future, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The demonstrations of this innovative wireless charging technology took place at the Michigan Central innovation district, a hub dedicated to advancing technologies and programs that tackle barriers to mobility. This district also serves as Ford Motor Co.’s development site for self-driving vehicles, as they restore the old Michigan Central train station. The wireless-charging technology being showcased in Detroit belongs to Electreon, an Israel-based developer known for its wireless charging solutions for EVs. Electreon has already secured contracts for similar roadways in Israel, Sweden, Italy, and Germany. The State of Michigan announced its partnership with Electreon for this pilot initiative in 2021.
Stefan Tongur, Electreon’s Vice President of Business Development, emphasized the significance of wireless charging in promoting EV adoption. He stated, “Alongside Michigan’s automotive expertise, we’ll demonstrate how wireless charging unlocks widespread EV adoption, addressing limited range, grid limitations, and battery size and costs. This project paves the way for a zero-emission mobility future, where EVs are the norm, not the exception.”
The wireless-charging system operates through the transfer of electricity via a magnetic field between the charging segments beneath the road and the receivers installed in the vehicles. The coils only activate when a vehicle with a receiver passes over them, ensuring the safety of pedestrians, motorists, and animals, as stated by Tongur.
Both the Michigan Department of Transportation and Electreon have committed to five years of development for the electric road system. The state’s Department of Transportation plans to seek bids for the installation of inductive charging on a section of the busy Michigan Avenue.
This pioneering wireless-charging roadway puts Michigan and Detroit at the forefront of EV technology, according to officials. As the popularity of EVs continues to grow across the United States, the Biden administration has made the establishment of half a million EV charging stations a key component of its infrastructure goals. The wireless-charging technology implemented in Detroit represents a significant milestone in promoting EV adoption and addresses key concerns such as limited range, grid limitations, and battery size and costs. Detroit’s initiative underscores the city’s commitment to a sustainable and emissions-free mobility future.