News: ‘Scalextric’ recharging to be tested on motorway

All aboard the electric highway

Electric charging lanes

A SECTION of British motorway will be fitted with a Scalextric-type system to recharge electric cars on the move next year, under plans in a document published by the Highways Agency.

The government body is working with BMW, Renault and Scania, a lorry manufacturer, to test wireless charging technology using coiled wires buried under the surface of a lane. When electric vehicles fitted with wireless equipment drive over them, energy is transferred by magnetic induction — a high-power version of the process used to charge your electric toothbrush.

The aim is to enable vehicles to receive at least as much energy as they require to drive. This would enable manufacturers to fit smaller batteries, lowering the cost of cars, and reduce concerns that drivers have about their battery going flat. Motorists would be charged for the energy they receive.

Project leaders from Britain’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) are planning to test the system on a motorway around the end of next year. Officials are due to meet technology experts and car manufacturers later this month to discuss progress.

The Highways Agency has been under pressure to reduce emissions from cars using its roads. Last week that intensified when the European Court of Justice ruled that the government needed to take urgent action to reduce harmful pollutants.

“The government is promoting the advantages of ultra-low-emission vehicles,” said the Highways Agency.

“That is why the Highways Agency has appointed a consortium of organisations, led by TRL and [the engineering firm] Halcrow, to carry out research to understand whether technology exists that would enable electric cars to be charged while using motorways.”

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