Last month, State Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the state of Michigan has announced an ambitious plan to build the country’s first wireless electric vehicle charging road. It will help the state meet its net-zero target by 2050, according to Whitmer. The one-mile stretch will be built in Metro Detroit at a proposed cost of $1.9 million if the plan is implemented.
In a press release sent to media houses, Whitmer said that Michigan was the first state to build paved roads in the country. The state is also on course to be the first to build roads for the future.
“Michigan was home to the first mile of paved road, and now we’re paving the way for the roads of tomorrow,” Whitmer said, “with innovative infrastructure that will support the economy and the environment.”
The world’s first electric car charging road was built in Sweden in 2018 at the cost of $2.4 million. These types of roads work on the concept of magnetic induction. As a car drives on the road, the battery is charged by pads built under the road through magnetic induction. The road does not give the car full charge but helps provide additional power to sustain the vehicle until the next charging point.
While in Michigan the idea behind electric car charging roads is still in its infancy, the Michigan Department of Transportation has already started accepting proposals for the project. When one is accepted, there will be a clearer picture of how the road will look like.
The project has received both praises and criticism, with some players in the industry terming it as “unviable” and “a waste of resources.” Chris Mi, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department at San Diego State University, said in an interview that the project is unrealistic on a large scale.
For the road to be usable, cars have to be built with a receiver capable of receiving electromagnetic induction power. It would make electric cars unaffordable for most people. Additionally, weather is another major issue, according to Mi.
“Michigan in the winter gets potholes all over the place, which means any of the wireless transmission systems you buried down in the road will be damaged in a couple of years,” he said.
Critiques also argue that for a state-ranked 36th in terms of transport infrastructure, building such a road is not a priority. The money might be of more value if directed to other transport facilities such as commuter train systems.
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