World’s first electrified road recharges your car battery

In Sweden, the world’s first electrified road was opened, which recharges the battery of cars and trucks driving on it with the aim of making fossil-free transportation possible.

For many people, the main reason not to get an electric car, aside from the costs, is the fear of running out of power (though the range of electric vehicles is steadily increasing). The electrified road in Sweden aims to prevent this from happening.

In the so-called eRoadArlanda project, the road near Stockholm is embedded with 2 km (1.2 miles) of electric rail. The energy is transferred from two tracks of rail in the road via a movable arm attached to the bottom of the vehicle. Should the vehicle overtake, the arm is automatically disconnected, and when the vehicle stops, the current stops as well. The road is divided into 50m sections, with an individual section powered only when a vehicle is above it.

The system is able to calculate the vehicle’s energy consumption, enabling it to debit the electricity costs per vehicle and user. The electrified road means that electric cars can have smaller batteries, which will decrease their cost. However, all electric cars would have to be fitted with a connector.

While the energy is delivered at 200kW, the electricity is 6 cm down in the tracks and it is also connected to the earth, so the safety risk is minimal. Even if the road is flooded with salt water, the electricity at the surface is less than one volt.

The first car to drive the road between Arlanda Airport and a distribution centre 12 km away is an electric truck from logistics company PostNord, which has been fitted with a connector underneath its chassis that attaches to the electrified groove in the road. The connecting and disconnecting of the arm happens automatically.

To make the roads commercially useful, Sweden needs 20,000 km of electrified road, starting with a 1,365 km triangle linking Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg, which is responsible for 70 per cent of heavy goods traffic in the country. The electrified road costs €1 million per kilometre, which is 50 times lower than the costs required to construct an urban tram line.

In 2016, Sweden opened a 2 km stretch of motorway with overhead power lines to power lorries.

Photos: eRoadArlanda / NCC Joakim Kröger