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Wireless EV charging road opens for testing in Detroit

Get ready for a charging boost in downtown Detroit.

On Nov. 29, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) installed the first-ever wireless electrified roadway. The technology works similar to that of a wireless charging pad. The charging coils, which are connected to the power grid, emit energy to receiver plates installed under a car or truck. This energy then passes through to the battery. 

This major milestone is all part of the partnership between the City of Detroit, MDOT and Electron  – an Israeli Company known for developing and providing wireless charging solutions for electric vehicles.

"We're excited to spearhead the development and deployment of America's first wireless charging road," said Dr. Stefan Tongur, vice president of business development for Electreon. "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."

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The electrified roadway is built into 14th Street, stretching a quarter mile near the Michigan Central building in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood. 

For those who are concerned about other vehicles, pedestrians and wildlife, Electreon said the technology is safe and it only activates when a car with a receiver passes over the coil. This ensures that the energy is only transferred to a vehicle that requires it. 

The partnership between Michigan and Electreon was first mentioned in September 2021 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The governor mentioned the pilot initiative as a way for the state to have the nation’s first wireless charging infrastructure. Under a five-year plan, Electreon and MDOT will work to create an electric road system.

"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," said Chief Mobility Officer Justine Johnson of the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. "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."

Testing of the wireless charging technology will begin in 2024 with a Ford E-Transit electric commercial van. Staff will determine efficiency and operations along with long-term public transportation opportunities.

MDOT wants to put Michigan and Detroit on the map as the leaders in transportation innovation as they plan to use the technology in other roads in the future.

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