Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on Tuesday, February 1st, 2022, that Michigan plans to build the first electric vehicle charging road in the United States. It could be ready to go very quickly -- by 2023.
The road will be constructed by ElectReon, an Israel-based company. The roadway would charge electric vehicles while they are in motion or parked on the road. The company is conducting tests in Germany, Italy, and Sweden. Last October they signed a $9.4 million deal to charge electric buses in Tel Aviv.
Is this a very expensive symbolic gesture?
The short answer is "probably"! Let's look at a few numbers...
The Michigan Department of Transportation is providing $1.9 million in funding for the one-mile stretch of road. ElectReon will supply any additional funding.
To take advantage of this charging technology, electric automobiles would have to be equipped to do so. That could cost thousands of dollars per vehicle. Who is going to be willing to pay that amount of money to drive, or park, on a one mile stretch of road in Detroit?
The other concern that I have...how much of a charge are you going to get on a one mile stretch of road? Let's say you are driving 60 miles per hour on that section of electric road. You would traveling over the charging portion of the road for 1 minute. Even if the speed limit is only 30 miles per hour, your car would only be charging for a total of 2 minutes while traveling over the road.
Use the charging of your smart phone as a reference. Plug your phone in for two minutes. How much of a charge do you actually get? Pretty much next to nothing. A smart phone battery is much smaller and will charge a lot faster than a battery that is powering a car. You can expect almost no charge whatsoever in the short about of time you will be driving on the "electric road". Parking on the road would be your best opportunity for a charge.
A better suggestion
Would this almost $2 million be better spent installing this type of charging technology into a parking structure? Perhaps a parking ramp near a concert venue, sporting arena, or even a downtown business district -- where many workers park for several hours at a time.
Don't get me wrong, I would someday love to see a road that charged our electric vehicles that we will all be driving, however, the cost to install all of the charging infrastructure is just way too costly. We can't afford to fix the roads we have in our state now -- where is the money going to come from to do something like this over thousands of miles of roads in our state in the future?