America’s automotive heart has just introduced critical new EV tech, as Detroit unveils the nation’s first EV charging road for testing and use. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the City of Detroit, and Electreon recently unveiled the first public EV wireless charging roadway in the US, located at Michigan Central’s innovation district in Detroit.
A quarter-mile segment of 14th Street between Marantette and Dalzelle streets was equipped with inductive-charging coils, which can charge electric vehicles equipped with Electreon receivers as they drive on the road.
Electreon, which specializes in wireless charging and has several other pilot installations around the world, explains that its wireless charging technology is based on inductive coupling between copper coils installed below the road’s surface and receivers installed on electric vehicles. The system can be static or dynamic:
“When a vehicle 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 vehicle’s battery. These charging segments can transfer wireless electricity to the receiver either when the vehicle is parked (static charging) or is driving (dynamic charging). The electric road is safe for drivers, pedestrians and wildlife. Each coil in the road is activated only when a vehicle with an approved receiver passes over the coil. This ensures that energy transfer is controlled and provided only to vehicles that require it.”
In theory, with a sufficient number of roads equipped with dynamic wireless charging systems, it would be possible to power and charge EVs right from the grid. Thus, their batteries could be smaller, which means lighter and less expensive vehicles. However, the infrastructure cost is currently a major obstacle.
According to the press release, extensive tests of the pilot system are planned for early 2024 with the use of a Ford E-Transit electric commercial van retrofitted with the Electreon receiver. The staff intends to test the efficiency and operations of the vehicle and study potential long-term public transportation opportunities.
In 2024, MDOT will begin seeking bids to rebuild part of US-12 (Michigan Avenue), which will see additional inductive charging installed, the official announcement says.
Meanwhile, Electreon has installed two static inductive charging stations in front of Michigan Central Station. In both static and dynamic wireless charging cases, the technology must be standardized and embraced by the entire automotive industry to become a true alternative to conventional, wired charging on a large scale.
Dr. Stefan Tongur, Electreon’s vice president of business development, said:
“We’re excited to spearhead the development and deployment of America’s first wireless charging road. This milestone stands as a testament to our collaborative efforts with the State of Michigan and MDOT, the City of Detroit, Michigan Central, Ford, Mcity, Jacobs, Next Energy, DTE, and others. 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.”
Chief Mobility Officer Justine Johnson of the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification said:
“Michigan has always been at the forefront of innovation in mobility, and that forward-thinking is on display with the latest advances in inductive charging from Electreon, the first deployment of this electric vehicle charging technology in the United States. This latest milestone supports the goals of the MI Future Mobility Plan to grow Michigan’s mobility leadership, and proves that companies like Electreon can test and deploy the newest innovations right here in Michigan.”
Michigan Central CEO Joshua Sirefman said:
“We are excited to partner with MDOT, the City of Detroit and Electreon to bring the future of roads to Michigan. This is what Michigan Central is all about, not only convening key partners across the public and private sectors to fuel innovation and create jobs and investment in Detroit, but also providing the environment to safely test and hone technology like Electreon in real time and in the real world. It is through this collaboration and advancement that Michigan Central is helping to tackle global problems and fast-track solutions to many of our greatest mobility challenges.”
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said:
“For more than a century, Detroit has been known around the world as the leader in transportation innovation. We are the birthplace of the auto industry, and the home of the first mile of concrete road and the first three-way traffic signal. Today, thanks to Gov. Whitmer and our partners at Michigan Central and Electreon, we can add the nation’s first wireless charging public roadway to that list of innovations.”
MDOT Director Bradley C. Wieferich said:
“Developing electrified roadways may be the catalyst to accelerate interest and acceptance of EVs for all consumers. Making it easier for EV users to find a reliable charging source without disrupting their commute supports both fleet operations and passenger travel. We’re proud to collaborate with private industry partners and the City of Detroit to support these important initiatives leading us toward a more sustainable future with fewer emissions.”