[Image above] Credit: NCC AB; YouTube

This could be the year of electric vehicle (EV) ubiquity.

According to experts interviewed for a story, 2018 is forecasted to be the tipping point for EV adoption. Some experts predict that EV sales will even double this year.

And auto manufacturers are quickly moving forward with new models of EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs that validate those predictions.

That’s exciting news for planet Earth, but the industry needs to overcome a couple of hurdles before the masses embrace EV technology. One challenge for the U.S. is the need for a comprehensive EV charging infrastructure. Having enough charging stations for drivers to take those long-distance road trips might entice more consumers to purchase a new EV.

One advancement that seems to be stuck in neutral is the development of a faster-charging and cheaper battery that will hold its charge longer. Researchers are already working to improve EV battery performance and lower costs, however it doesn’t seem to be happening fast enough.

But an initiative in Sweden is taking a different approach to solving EV charging problems. eRoadArlanda is a project that uses conductive technology on electric rails embedded in roads to power and charge vehicles as they cruise down the road. The goal is “to generate knowledge, experience, and decision data that is conducive to the creation of a platform for the electrification of larger transport routes in Sweden,” according to its website.

The technology transfers power from a rail embedded into the middle of a road to a vehicle that has a movable arm connected to its chassis. The rail, connected to a power grid, provides power to the vehicle through the arm as it travels the road.

eRoadArlanda transfers power from a rail embedded in the road to a vehicle. Credit: eRoadArlanda

eRoadArlanda claims road traffic accounts for 33% of Sweden’s carbon emissions. Its long-term goal is to create a fossil-free transportation system by 2030–2050 and ultimately reduce carbon emissions by up to 80–90%.

Earlier this month, officials cut the ribbon to an approximately 2-km (a little over a mile) road between the Arlanda Cargo Terminal and the Rosersberg logistics area near Stockholm. “It is important to break new ground when it comes to climate-smart road transport,” Lena Erixon, director general of the Swedish Transport Administration, comments in a news release. “That’s why the Swedish Transport Administration supports innovative development projects that contribute to long-term, sustainable solutions.”

Is eRoadArlanda practical?

Not everyone believes the £870,000 ($1.2 million) per km road is worth the price tag.

“The cost of eRoadArlanda and the disruption it would cause if it were extended nationwide makes other options more appealing,” writes Rick Greenough, professor of energy systems at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, in an article for The Conversation.

He believes that digging up existing roads is an extreme solution to a problem that could be solved in more practical and lower-cost ways—for example, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, longer range batteries, and building additional recharging stations for EVs and hydrogen vehicles.

Greenough also questions the road’s durability over the long term and offers other common-sense solutions, such as getting more use out of existing railways. “Whichever low carbon transport solution ends up dominating the market, we should not forget the options of transferring more freight to the railways or simply moving less of it around,” he writes. “It might not be as exciting as building vehicle-charging roads, but extending the life span of products you already own, through recycling, refurbishment, and remanufacturing, is the cheapest and least disruptive way to reduce hazardous fumes.”

Electric roads are not a new idea. Last year MIT Technology Review reported on two companies that have already built and tested smaller electric roads—making similar arguments for and against the technology.

What do you think? Will eRoadArlanda be a success? Share your thoughts below.

Watch the video to learn more about eRoadArlanda. Read more about the project at this link.


Credit: NCC AB; YouTube

And watch the original video for a more detailed depiction of how eRoadArlanda works.


Credit NCC AB: YouTube

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