The United Kingdom is set to trial wireless charging technology for electric and hybrid vehicles being driven along the motorway. The government has announced plans to trial wireless charging for electric vehicles (EVs) and explore how EVs and hybrid vehicles can be supported when used across the country’s motorways.
The trials will involve fitting vehicles with wireless technology and testing equipment, installed underneath a road, to replicate motorway conditions. If all goes to plan, low-emission vehicles may be able to travel down these long stretches of road without the need to — somewhere — stop and charge batteries.
As the cost of fossil fuel rises, alternative sources of energy for transport use have been developed. Electric vehicle technology is still within its infancy and is often too expensive in starting costs for the average consumer, but as batteries are refined and their costs go down, this saving may bring down the purchase price of EVs and entice more customers towards the technology. Aside from the cost of batteries, there is also the problem of where to charge them — and many cities, including those in the UK, lack the infrastructure to support purely electric vehicles.
Hybrids, therefore, are the half-way option for consumers weaning themselves off fossil fuels. The UK government, creator of the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ), is keen to encourage the general public to opt for lower-emission modes of transport — but without the supporting infrastructure, the adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles will stall.
Testing of the wireless charging system is due to take place later this year off-road as part of a £500 million investment in EV technology support, and are expected to last approximately 18 months. If successful, the government will consider on-road trials.
Highways England Chief Highways Engineer Mike Wilson said:
“Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever increasing pace and we’re committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emissions vehicles on our England’s motorways and major A roads.
The off road trials of wireless power technology will help to create a more sustainable road network for England and open up new opportunities for businesses that transport goods across the country.”
However, all of this, eventually, will come down to cost — and as battery technology improves, wireless charging down motorways may not even be necessary. If the plan is ultimately laid to rest, the UK Highways England agency is already committed to the installation plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the motorway network “in the longer-term.”