October 27th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
Wireless electric vehicle charging is an interesting technology solution. It’s been long debated how much of a role it plays in the future of the industry. The big benefit is the convenience, of course — you don’t even have to plug in. The arguments regarding the downsides have been that efficiency is not as high as plug-based charging, high-power charging wasn’t possibly, and cost may be high. However, the tech keeps improving and all of those concerns may be drifting away.
The latest step forward comes from the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo. It is partnering with ElectReon and Dan Bus Company to implement an “electric road” pilot project. In particular, this electric road will charge electric buses traveling 2 kilometers each way from Tel Aviv University Railway Station to Klatzkin Terminal in Ramat Aviv and back. On that route, 600 meters will be electrified in order to enable the wireless charging.
The bus service is supposed to commence within the coming month or so. The city claims that it is the first in the world to use wireless charging for electric buses on a large scale. (Though, technically, this is still a rather small pilot project. And we’ve also covered a story about electric buses in Washington using wireless charging.)
If the project goes well, the city’s plans go well beyond wireless charging of electric buses. Tel Aviv-Yafo “will evaluate the possibility of additional electric transportation, including public transportation, distribution trucks, and private and autonomous vehicles.”
Messaging around the project is heavily focused on cutting air pollution in the city. Climate change is only mentioned once in a long press release, and that was in a quote from he mayor of the city that framed the action as climate adaption more than a solution to stop climate change — though, that may have just been due to an odd choice of wording. “We are constantly working to reduce air pollution in the city, and our strategic action plan to prepare for climate change has placed the fight against pollution at the top of the municipality’s environmental agenda,” Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, said. “If the pilot is successful, we will evaluate — together with the Ministry of Transportation — its expansion to additional locations in the city.”
“The pilot will be a display window to the world, showcasing the ability to charge urban public transportation,” Oren Ezer, ElectReon CEO and founding partner, said. “This is alongside a project in Sweden demonstrating the ability to charge heavy trucks on an intercity road, and a project in Germany that represents the first sale of the technology to a commercial company. We thank the municipality and especially the technical teams who assisted in setting up the project. The project would not have been possible without them.”
This is not ElectReon’s first test of its technology. However, it seems that the company has only tipped its toes in the water of real-world implementation so far. “The company recently announced the completion of initial testing of an electric road system, and presented for the first time an electric vehicle traveling continuously along a 25-meter section within the company’s experimental complex in Beit Yanai, to the satisfaction of the system’s developers,” the press release notes. That’s something, and it’s a good sign in order to indicate that the tech has already been tested a bit in a normal setting. Though, as indicated, even that was recent.
While this appears to be ElectReon’s second pilot project, we have been covering other wireless EV charging pilot projects in other parts of the world using tech from other companies for years, and I’ve published some significant updates in recent months. In fact, I was just recently on a podcast discussing this topic. You can check that out in the embedded player below.
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