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Wireless, In-Road Vehicle Charging Coming to Detroit

Electreon, an Israeli technology company, will develop an electric road system pilot project across a one-mile stretch of Detroit roadway to charge electric vehicles as they drive.

eTruck powered by ElectReon wirelessly charging - tech overview.jpg
A photo illustration showing wireless, in-road charging technology for electric vehicles.
Photo courtesy Electreon
The age of charging while you drive could be on the horizon in the Motor City. Wireless electric vehicle charging technology will soon be built into a stretch of roadway in Detroit.

The project, known as an electric road system (ERS), will be deployed in a one-mile stretch of roadway in the area known as Michigan Central, a transportation innovation hub in downtown Detroit.

Electreon, an Israeli technology company, will lead the pilot program, which could be operational in 2023, said Michael Frezell, communications manager for the Office of Communications at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Other partners in the project include the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).

The company’s technology allows EVs to charge wirelessly while moving or stationary.

“MDOT and the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification hope it becomes a nationwide model for how we can continue accelerating electric vehicle adoption and usher in a new generation of transportation technologies,” said Frezell.

Electreon is also operating pilot projects in Sweden, Germany and Italy and will soon deploy a wireless charging network for some 200 buses in Tel Aviv.

“This is a monumental step towards expanding our U.S. presence and team, and it’s exciting to start in the birthplace of the modern automobile industry,” Electreon CEO Oren Ezer said in a statement.

Wireless car-charging has been in development at other transportation testing sites like the GoMentum Station in California's Bay Area.

The announcement in Michigan comes as the nation prepares for the unprecedented build-out of thousands of new charging stations across the country in the next five years, aided by the new federal infrastructure law, which will invest some $7.5 billion toward the effort. The U.S. departments of Energy and Transportation have formed a joint office to guide states and localities through the task of greatly expanding charging.

“This administration knows that the future is electric,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, in comments at the National EV Charging Summit on Jan. 20.

President Joe Biden wants half of the new cars sold in the United States to be zero emission by 2030. Today, EVs make up only five percent of the cars on the roads.

Michigan has been moving forward with expanding EV charging infrastructure — the wired kind — as it works to cement its place as a center for automotive innovation.

“We want to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in the state of Michigan. It’s why we’re making these serious and strong investments in charging infrastructure,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II recently told Government Technology.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.