Electric Avenue - Car Charging Lanes for the UK

With limited driving range on electric vehicles would the introduction of charging lanes on motorways be an innovative idea?

Things are only looking up for electric vehicles, with sales on the rise in the UK as more and more drivers are seeing the advantages of owning an EV and making the switch. Manufacturers are also realising the potential with improved batteries and increased driving range to introduce a stand-out vehicle that will become the market leader.

As a nation we are slowly succumbing to the benefits of electric vehicles and whilst waiting for a model that can go the distance, we have begun to look at how to integrate EV’s on UK roads. Technology is now an integral part of the driving experience from autonomous features, voice-command controls and the development of augmented reality and vehicles connecting with one and other. Electric vehicles have been on our roads for quite some time but it is only recently that we have thought of smarter ways to ensure that we don’t run out of charge for longer journeys.

Charge on the Move

Currently the battery life of an electric car doesn’t allow a driver to go as far as a petrol or diesel fuelled vehicle. Highways England have announced an 18-month scheme to trial charging lanes that could eventually be used on UK motorways. The trial period will see vehicles fitted with wireless technology and equipment installed beneath roads, replicating motorway conditions. Electric cables underneath the road’s surface will generate electromagnetic fields, with a coil inside the device converting into electricity resulting in charging your vehicle on the go.

Although charging stations have now become a more common sight, introducing the roads would eradicate driver’s concerns of running out of juice on the motorway. The trial will take place later this year with a potential follow up to happen on public roads.

Transport minister Andrew Jones is keen to keep the UK at the forefront of the scheme investing £500 million over the next five years to the technology being used. The roads would help in creating a more sustainable road network and for many businesses this would create new possibilities. With the potential to save on expenditure due to no emissions, no road tax and no congestion charge for vehicles travelling within London.

Positives & Negatives

Although the scheme would ensure that electric vehicles would be supplied with a constant charge, there are also concerns if the overall cost is worth it. With the development of improved batteries being introduced in next-gen models such as the Nissan Leaf there is also the question of whether these roads are a necessity. The technology is available to make this achievable, however the concerns of cost and the ambition of the project are some negatives outweighing the scheme.

Similar trials have been seen before, in South Korea a 7.5 mile road charges electric buses as they drive via a process called Shaped Magnetic Field in Resonance (SMFIR). A trial in Milton Keynes also saw buses charged on roads but wirelessly through plates in the road when the bus stopped moving in order to receive the charge.

Only time will tell if the trial is a bright idea for the future of EV’s driving range or if the ambitious scheme will be left in the dark.

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