Sweden Just Announced World’s First Electric Road That Charges Cars As They Drive

Energy is transfered through a moveable arm from the rail in the road to the vehicle. The arm detects the rail in the road as long as the vehicle is above it. eRoadArlanda

Sweden is paving the way for renewable energy after debuting the world’s first vehicle-charging electrified road, setting the nation well on its way to reaching its goal of a 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

It works by recharging the electrical batteries of vehicles as they drive along the road, using a technology called conductive charging. According to project overseers eRoadArlanda, electricity is supplied via conductors embedded in the road.

The vehicle is connected to an electrified rail and, as long as the vehicle is above the rail, a movable arm transfers power from the rail to the vehicle’s battery. The current disconnects when the vehicle stops, allowing the system to calculate how much energy a vehicle is using and then debiting the costs per vehicle and user. It eliminates the need for roadside charging posts and means batteries can be smaller and manufacturing costs lower.

Conductive feeds embedded in the road feed electricity to the vehicle through a moveable arm, charging the car's battery. eRoadArlanda

“There is no electricity on the surface. There are two tracks, just like an outlet in the wall. Five or 6 centimeters [2 or 2.4 inches] down is where the electricity is,” eRoadArlanda chief executive Hans Säll told The Guardian. “But if you flood the road with salt water then we have found that the electricity level at the surface is just one volt. You could walk on it barefoot.”

Not only do the rails supposedly reduce carbon emissions by 90 percent, the company says it is 75 percent cheaper than the cost of fuel.

“Electrifying 20,000 kilometers [12,427 miles] of roads in Sweden with conductive feeds is expected to cost about SEK 80 billion [$9.5 billion],” said the company. “If we assume that electric cars with small batteries cost the same as internal-combustion cars, it would take less than three years to pay for the electrification of the roads.”

While other nations are developing similar systems and technologies, Sweden’s announcement is the “first of its kind” to allow both commercial and passenger vehicles the opportunity to recharge while driving.  

For now, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of electric rail have been installed outside of Stockholm. For the next two years, the road will work as a test dummy to determine how well the system works under normal traffic conditions and in various weather conditions. The company says it plans to extend its network throughout the nation. 

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