Electric Roads: Can EVs Charge On-the-Go?

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Electric vehicles (EVs) have gained significant traction in recent years as a sustainable and eco-friendly mode of transportation. However, one of the main challenges of owning an electric vehicle is the need for regular charging. This inconvenience often necessitates making frequent stops at charging stations – a lot more often than a petrol car having to stop to refuel – disrupting the flow of travel. But what if EVs could charge on the go? Enter the revolutionary concept of electric roads – roads that charge electric cars –  which could eliminate the need for frequent charging stops and revolutionise the way we think about electric transportation.

The Rise of Electric Roads

Electric roads, also known as electrified roadways or e-motorways, are a cutting-edge innovation that aims to wirelessly charge EVs while they are in motion. This groundbreaking concept has the potential to transform the way we use electric vehicles, making them even more convenient and practical for everyday use. The idea of electric roads is gaining momentum across the globe, with countries like the United States and Sweden leading the way in implementing and testing this technology.

Detroit’s Electric Road

In the United States, Detroit has become home to the country’s first stretch of road that can wirelessly charge EVs, whether they are parked or moving. This quarter-mile section of 14th Street in Detroit’s Michigan Central, a mobility innovation district, features inductive-charging coils made by Israeli startup Electreon. The installation of this electrified road aims to test and perfect wireless charging technology in a real-world environment before making it available to the public in the coming years.

Sweden’s Plan for a Permanent Electric Road

Whilst Detroit’s introduction of wireless charging in its city centre is a pioneering innovation, Sweden is taking it one step further by building the world’s first permanent electrified road for EVs. This exciting project involves transforming the European route E20, which connects logistic hubs between Hallsberg and Örebro, into an electrified road. The goal is to allow cars and trucks to recharge while driving, eliminating the need for frequent stops at charging stations. This is expected to be completed by 2025 and may pave the way for an expansion of electric roads across the country. An electrified road is an interesting insight into what transport might look like in the future.

How Will Electric Roads Work?

While an EV is moving, electric roadways use cutting-edge charging technologies to wirelessly send power to the vehicle. The catenary system, the conductive (ground-based) system, and the inductive system are the three primary charging technologies used in electric road systems. Let’s have a look at how each one works: 

  • Catenary system – the catenary system uses overhead wires to supply electricity to specific vehicles, including buses and trams. Private vehicles might not be a good fit for this technology, which is mostly intended for heavy-duty vehicles. The cars may be charged while they are moving since they have receivers installed that attach to the overhead lines.
  • Conductive charging – electricity is transferred to EVs over a conduction system, such as a rail or embedded wires in order for conductive charging to function. Both private cars and heavy-duty vehicles can use this system. The cars may be charged while they are in motion thanks to a stick or arm that extends from the vehicle and makes contact with the conductive rail.
  • Inductive charging – inductive charging is a wireless charging technique that transfers power to a coil in an EV, using specialised equipment installed underneath the road. The car’s coil then charges the battery with this power it has received. 

Benefits of Electric Roads

Electric roads offer numerous advantages that have the potential to transform the landscape of electric transportation. Here are some of the key benefits of this innovative technology:

Convenient and Seamless Charging

Electric roads provide several benefits, but convenience is definitely one of the most significant. By charging electric cars on the road, EV owners are liberated from the need to stop at charging stations frequently. This seamless integration of dynamic charging into daily commutes eradicates the necessity for prolonged charging sessions, thereby enhancing the practicality of electric vehicles for routine use, and slashing travelling times. 

Extended Range and Reduced Battery Sizes

On electrified roads, dynamic charging enables EVs to go further on smaller batteries. The cars are no longer limited by the capacity of their batteries since they have the ability to charge while they are moving. The increased range capability of electric vehicles allows them to be more like conventional cars, which eases EV owners’ concerns about running out of fuel.

Furthermore, EV manufacturers are able to build vehicles with smaller batteries, which lowers costs and weight, thanks to the ability to charge on the go. Smaller batteries are also better for the environment as they need fewer raw materials for production and generate less waste.

Uninterrupted Operation of Electric Fleets

The operation of electric fleets, including delivery vans, long-haul trucks, electric buses, and robotaxis, might be completely transformed by electric roads. Electric roads reduce the need for planned charging stops by offering continuous charging while in motion, allowing these vehicles to run continuously. This boosts overall productivity, decreases downtime, and improves the efficiency of electric fleets.

Minimal Impact on the Environment

By fostering the adoption of EVs and the implementation of electric roads, this initiative contributes to a cleaner, greener environment by slashing carbon emissions from transportation. The emergence of the world’s first electric roads marks a pivotal step towards sustainable transportation, playing a vital role in the battle against climate change and paving the way for a cleaner future, especially with plans to become carbon neutral by 2050. 

Challenges for Electric Roads

Cost of Implementation and Maintenance

The process of integrating charging technology into the current road infrastructure is a labour-intensive and expensive part of building electric roadways. In addition to the cost of supplies, the initial investment also covers the substantial costs related to scheduling road closures and organising installation logistics. After installation, these systems require continuing maintenance to make sure they stay safe and functional over time. The high costs of these elements might be a major deterrent to their widespread adoption, requiring large investments from both the public and private sectors.

Technical Hurdles

Developing a reliable and efficient energy transfer system that can operate under various traffic conditions and in all weather scenarios is a complex challenge. Maintaining a steady and secure physical connection between the car and the road can be challenging for conductive systems, particularly when travelling at high speeds or in adverse weather conditions. Inductive charging systems, while avoiding direct contact, must be highly efficient to minimise energy losses during transfer. Both systems must be resilient enough to withstand the wear and tear of constant use and be scalable across different vehicle types and road conditions.

Safety Concerns

There are valid safety issues when high-voltage electric components are introduced into road surfaces, especially when using conductive charging techniques that expose vulnerable materials. It is critical to safeguard the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and animals, as well as non-electric vehicle drivers. This entails making sure the system cannot start a fire or create other dangers, particularly during severe weather like flooding or snowstorms, and minimising the risk of electrical shock in the case of accidents or malfunctions.

The Future of Electric Roads

Electric roads, akin to the innovative Swedish roads, herald a promising future for electric transportation. As nations globally pour resources into research and development, the future looks bright for an uptick in electrified road projects. Electric highways would require hefty infrastructure investments and a synergistic effort among governments, technology firms, and the automotive sector to weave into the fabric of our daily commutes on a grand scale.

Sweden’s forward-thinking strategy to bolster its electric road infrastructure by an additional 3,000 kilometres by 2045 underscores the nation’s dedication to sustainable transportation, a move that has caught the attention of wionews. This ambition is not isolated; countries like Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, and India are also venturing into the realm of electric roads, backing pilot projects. The CollERS 2 research partnership between Sweden, Germany, and France is a shining example of global collaboration, with the goal of exchanging knowledge and accelerating the rollout of electric vehicle networks.


Electric highways are carving a path towards a transformative era in electric transportation. These pioneering systems present a seamless and efficient answer to the hurdles of electric vehicle ownership by facilitating on-the-go charging for EVs. They promise extended EV ranges, smaller and more affordable batteries, and the continuous functioning of electric fleets. However, attention must be given to the challenges that electric roads bring before widespread adoption occurs. Hurdles to overcome include significant costs, safety concerns and technological considerations. 

As investments in research, development, and infrastructure surge, the vision of an extensive network of electric roads inches closer to reality. With their capacity to slash carbon emissions and foster a greener, more sustainable future, electric roads are set to redefine our travel norms and overhaul the transportation sector. 

Find out everything there is to know about EV charging, explore our EV charging hub or click the button below to head to the Distrelec webshop and purchase EV charging products. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an electric road?

An electric road, e-road, or electric highway is a road which enables an electric vehicle (EV) to charge on-the-go, rather than at charging points in various locations.

How do electric roads charge EVs while they are moving?

Electric roads charge vehicles using either conductive or inductive charging methods. Conductive charging involves direct electrical contact between the vehicle and charging elements in the road, such as embedded wires or rails. Inductive charging, on the other hand, uses electromagnetic fields generated by coils embedded in the road to transfer energy wirelessly to coils in the vehicle. Both methods allow electric vehicles (EVs) to be charged as they drive, eliminating the need to stop at charging stations.

Are electric roads safe for all road users?

Yes, electric roads are designed with safety as a paramount concern. For inductive charging systems, since the charging occurs wirelessly, there are no exposed electrical components, reducing the risk of electric shock. Conductive systems are designed to activate only when a compatible vehicle is directly over them, minimising safety risks.

What are the environmental benefits of e-roads?

Electric roads can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by facilitating the increased use of electric vehicles. By eliminating range anxiety and reducing the need for large, heavy batteries, electric roads can make EVs more efficient and appealing, leading to a decrease in the use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Moreover, if powered by renewable energy sources, electric roads can contribute to a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of the transportation sector.

Can all electric vehicles use electric roads?

Currently, only electric vehicles equipped with compatible technology can use electric roads. For inductive charging, vehicles need to be fitted with a receiver coil compatible with the road’s electromagnetic system. For conductive charging, vehicles require a physical connection mechanism. As electric road technology develops and is standardised, it’s expected that more vehicles will be manufactured with built-in compatibility, or retrofitting options will become available for existing EVs to ensure broad access to the benefits of electric roads.

Will Sweden construct the first electric road ever intended for mobile EV charging?

Yes, the Scandinavian country is building the first ever permanently electrified roadway, which will allow EVs to charge while they travel. This innovative e-motorway, which is expected to be completed in 2025, promises to transform EV infrastructure and eliminate a significant barrier to the technology.

How much will charging the roads in Sweden cost?

A7: The eRoadArland Group estimates that the cost of electrifying 12,000 miles of roads in Sweden would cost around $9.5 billion, but that money would be recovered in three years. Drivers who use the electrified road will be billed in part to cover some of these expenses.

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