Sweden has opened a 2km stretch of electrified public road, allowing vehicles to charge as they drive.
In recent years households and businesses have turned to electric vehicles (EVs) to reduce running costs and lower their impact on the environment by cutting carbon emissions. The falling price of EVs - alongside lighter energy cells and improved battery technology - have made them an increasingly popular choice, with many leading manufacturers now producing both hybrid and fully electric vehicles.
One of the most frequently cited problems with EVs is the process of charging them. Despite the presence of charging facilities in public car parks, topping up an EV is time-consuming and potentially inconvenient compared with filling a tank with petrol. For drivers who don't have off-street parking at home, the logistics can understandably be off-putting. And for businesses - particularly those in the transport indusrty - incorporating charging times into operations is an added complication.
Addressing such issues, Sweden has electrified stretches of road on a high-traffic shipping route. The intention is to increase the number of electric heavy goods vehicles in use and continue the country's move away from using fossil fuels for transportation. This pilot project will test the benefits of installing the new road infrastructure more widely.
Demonstration video by eRoadArlanda showing how the electrified road works.
The route runs between Stockholm Arlanda Airport and a nearby shipping hub. Electrified rails have been fitted into the road surface: vehicles drive over them and recharge through a receiver. The system monitors the vehicles, tracking the energy used and enabling the operator to bill for the electricity consumed.
The hope is that this scheme will prompt the use of new goods vehicles with smaller batteries, helping to make the transition to electric more cost effective for companies. If the pilot proves to be a success, more high-traffic routes will be created across Sweden and beyond at a current estimated cost of €1,000 per kilometre.
If the system is universally standardised and adopted, the wider implications could see both new and retro-fitted electric vehicles - including cars and buses - having a receiver to recharge over stretches of electrified road within the existing road network. This could enable a further reduction in the production costs of new cars with smaller batteries, and reduce the need to stop and recharge on longer journeys.