Wireless charging can reduce EV drivers’ range anxiety without adding physical infrastructure for plug-in chargers.
The popularity of electric vehicles has cities considering innovative ways of charging EVs without building disruptive physical facilities.
Earlier this year, Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) introduced the Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging Grant Program Act of 2022, proposing $50 million toward public projects that incorporate wireless charging pads on roads, parking lots, airports, coastal and inland ports. These charging options could make EVs more attractive by reducing drivers’ range anxiety, one of the main barriers to adoption.
In turn, wireless charging can help cities resolve challenges of providing sufficient plug-in access in dense, urban areas while giving drivers a convenient way to charge their vehicles on the go.
Some state and local governments are already ahead of the curve. Here are some pilot projects that are testing wireless charging alternatives:
- Michigan announced plans to test an electric road system that powers vehicles with inductive charging technology on a one-mile stretch of road in Detroit. Several state agencies are working with the manufacturer Electreon to install infrastructure that uses under-road units built of copper coils to wirelessly power EVs, while a cloud-based control unit allows communication between vehicles and management units.
- Researchers at the Indiana Department of Transportation and Purdue University partnered with German startup Magment GmbH to develop the world’s first wireless charging concrete highway. Using the company’s magnetizable concrete, the project also tested whether the technology could charge heavy trucks at 200 kilowatts or more. Eventually, INDOT said it planned to build a quarter-mile stretch of magnetized roadway to serve as a testbed.
- Transit officials in Wenatchee and Leavenworth, Washington, use Momentum Dynamics’ charging system. Installed in the pavement at select bus stops, it wirelessly charges the fleet while drivers take a break. Blue paint on the pavement marks the charging station, and drivers simply park on top of it to charge. Four charging pads are embedded in the pavement, and four more are attached under the bus, and through a process of induction, the pads convert the magnetic energy into electricity. According to Link Transit, the buses can travel 350 miles a day, considered an exceptional range for an EV. The company announced a similar project for seven transit centers in northern California.
- Lenexa, Kansas, approved a 10-year, $250 million pilot to install Integrated Roadways’ precast concrete pavement blocks at five downtown intersections. The blocks come equipped with load transfer devices for wireless EV charging.
"Being able to charge EVs with ease will help reduce range anxiety, lower costs, and allow all Americans—regardless of their physical ability—to use EVs,” Lawrence said. “I'm proud to introduce legislation that moves us closer to meeting our goals of electrifying our fleet while combating climate change.”