The Motor City is really taking it to the streets. Henry Ford drove his first car through Detroit in 1896. A few years later, the father of Ford Motor Company moved his business to the city. Other automakers, like General Motors and Chrysler, soon followed. Detroit grew to become the world’s car capital.
A lot has changed since the early days of the internal combustion engine. The rise of electric cars is one of the biggest changes. Atlas Public Policy says that this year, electric vehicles will make up a record 9% of all passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. This is up from 7.3% of all new cars sold in 2022.
These electric vehicles will need to be charged. A street just west of downtown Detroit was recently opened by the Michigan Department of Transportation as what is being called the first public wireless-charging route for EVs in the country.
New Electrified Roadway
In September 2021, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer launched the pilot program.How does the street work? Inductive charging coils made of copper let cars with antennas charge their batteries while they are moving, stopping, or parking on top of the coils.
When a car with a receiver gets close to the charging parts on the road, the road uses a magnetic field to send electricity wirelessly to the car. The energy from the power is then sent to the car’s battery. The technology belongs to Electreon, a company based in Israel that has contracts for similar roads in Sweden, Italy, Germany, and Israel.
A spokesman for the city said that between Marantette and Dalzelle streets, 14th Street now has magnetic charging coils. EVs with electron antennas will be charged while they are on the road. Henry Ford got things going in Detroit, so it makes sense that the company that bears his name gave us a Ford E-Transit business van that can charge while it drives on a quarter-mile stretch of fully paved 14th Street.
Along the charging road is the Newlab tech facility in the Michigan Central Building. This is where more than 60 tech and mobility companies are based. The transportation department said that the last of the work along 14th Street would likely not be finished until the end of 2023. State officials said that thorough testing of the inductive charging technology would begin in early 2024.
Dealing With Range Anxiety in Electric Car Owners
Officials say that the electric road is safe for people, animals, and walkers. Each coil on the road is only turned on when a vehicle with an approved receiver drives over it. This makes sure that energy flow is controlled and only goes to vehicles that need it. The news comes at a bad time for the EV industry, as automakers like Ford and GM have put off their own electric car projects.
The cost of EVs initially causes the most concern, followed by a lack of charging stations, which results in “range anxiety.” That’s what drivers worry about: not having enough power to get where they need to go.
“Building electric roads could be the spark that sparks more interest and acceptance of EVs for all consumers,” said Bradley Wieferich, head of the transportation agency, in a statement. “Making it easier for EV owners to find a safe place to charge without getting in the way of their commute helps both fleet operations and passenger travel.”
Buses in Israel are using the project, according to Stefan Tongur, the CEO of Electreon. The Detroit Free Press noted that the buses pay a fee to use the service. The inductive charging roadway isn’t seen as a full way to increase the number of charging stations for electric vehicles. Instead, it would be used as a range extender and would be paired with cars that are charging while they are still. The Michigan Transportation Department says that this project will cost $1.9 million from the state and $4 million from the Electreon team and other sources.