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The Charging Point

Your one-stop destination for electric and hybrid cars

2 workmen in high visibility jackets fit electric railing on a road in Sweden

This Road Charges Your Vehicle While You Drive on It

Sweden has become the world's first country to open a road that charges electric vehicles whilst its being driven on.

Located just outside of Stockholm, the road features 1.2 miles of electric rail, and there's already plans to place it around the rest of the country.

Developed by eRoadArlanda, the road works by connecting a moveable arm from the car to the road. The arm will lower from the vehicle until it senses two electrified rails, which then automatically connects to the road, transferring power from the rails to the vehicle's battery.

Illustration showing how roads with electric conductors work

Credit: eRoadArlanda (www.eroadarlanda.com)

The rail is divided into sections, and functions when a vehicle is detected above it. When a vehicle stops or overtakes, the current is disconnected and the arm raises automatically.

It's similar to that of a Scalextric, but with the added bonus that you're still completely in control of the car's movements. If you want to overtake, the arm automatically retracts and reinserts after the manoeuvre.

The road is currently being tested by a fleet of lorries that have been developed as part of the project, which are delivering goods for PostNord, the Swedish postal service.

A Heavy goods vehicle travels along the road

 

Questions have been asked about how safe the road is, and whether it's capable of withstanding the cold, snowy conditions of Stockholm.

However, these issues seem to have been addressed. The CEO of eRoadArlanda told CBC Radio that the road is completely safe, "The connector from the vehicle goes down into tracks six-centimetres deep, there's no electricity at the surface. You can actually walk barefoot on it - even if it's flooded with salt water."

The aim of the road is to one day eliminate the need of roadside charging points, meaning vehicle batteries can be smaller, and in turn less expensive.

Sweden has set a target to be independent from fossil fuels by 2030, and with this road producing 90% less emissions than fossil fuel alternatives, this project could be the start of the solution.