One of the electric car’s biggest criticisms is its lack of range and the need to frequently recharge the battery at designated supercharge stations. But the British government has a possible solution that could make electric cars mainstream — adding charge lanes to highways so electric and hybrid cars can “refuel” as they drive.
Britain’s Highways England recently announced an 18-month trial using wireless magnetic induction technology, which is installed in the cars and underneath the asphalt surface. The test, which will start this year, won’t be immediately carried out on public roads, but the facility will simulate common highway conditions. The British government has committed £500 million(about $783 million) to fund the project over five years.
“Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever increasing pace and we’re committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emissions vehicles,” said Mike Wilson, Highways England’s chief engineer, in a news release. “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.”
Britain has been aggressively taking on emissions-free transportation projects. Last year, London launched two trials, one for hybrid buses that recharge at each stop, and another that tested new battery-powered subway cars. Britain also approved the world’s largest offshore wind farm in 2014, which would produce 1,200 megawatts off England’s Suffolk Coast.
And Europe as a whole has been a leader in finding new ways to use roads — the Netherlands is home to the world’s first solar road, and could also soon be the first to use recycled plastic as road-building material.