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Sweden Deploys World's First EV Charging Road

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【Summary】From a safety perspective, the rail-and-arm EV charging method is a huge improvement from the country’s previous proposal to power electrified and hybrid trucks via a network of overhead electric lines.

Michael Cheng    Apr 19, 2018 7:15 AM PT
Sweden Deploys World's First EV Charging Road

Sweden is very optimistic in meeting its clean energy goals by 2030, with the deployment of EVs being a critical part of the country's strategy. In order to stimulate EV adoption in the area, local officials are developing and testing seamless EV charging solutions.

Recently, the country unveiled the world's first electrified road for EVs. The charging method is not wireless and requires a bulky arm attachment during operation.

Will Sweden's proposed rail-and-arm EV charging network put an end to range anxiety? Find out below.

Rail-and-arm EV Charging System

The rail-and-arm attachment instantly feeds electricity to a moving vehicle, as it makes contact with a strip on the ground. Located outside of Stockholm, so far, only 1.2 miles of the road is equipped with this feature. In the event the car swerves away from the contact strip, the attachment automatically comes off and the system stops charging.

A cutting-edge payment system ensures individuals are properly billed during use. The details of the feature were not elaborated fully during the demonstration. It is likely that people would be required to register with the service and submit payment information for automated billing.

"There is no electricity on the surface," explained Hans Säll, chief executive of eRoadArlanda.

"Five or six centimeters down is where the electricity is. But if you flood the road with salt water, then we have found that the electricity level at the surface is just one volt. You could walk on it barefoot."

From a safety perspective, the rail-and-arm technique is a huge improvement from the country's previous proposal to power electrified and hybrid trucks via a network of overhead electric lines. Siemens and Scania researchers spent almost two years developing the system.

The technology allows trucks to connect and disconnect from the network, without stopping. To prevent accidental tampering, the wires are only installed over one lane. This ensures other vehicles can pass freely and are not stuck behind slow-moving trucks connected to the charging network.

Future Development

According to local officials, this charging solution is considerably cheaper than setting up traditional EV charging stations – roughly 50 times cheaper. However, the experimental rail-and-arm charging method is not viewed as a complete replacement for EV hubs in parking lots and public locations.

Instead, the innovative system may be deployed on long roadways, where electrified vehicles need an extra boost for the journey, which can provide peace of mind for passengers.

"If we electrify 20,000km of highways that will definitely be enough," said Säll. "The distance between two highways is never more than 45km and electric cars can already travel that distance without needing to be recharged. Some believe it would be enough to electrify 5,000km."

Such developments may ease pressure for automakers and power cell manufacturers, when it comes to releasing extremely robust EV batteries to curb range anxiety. In the future, with directly accessible charging on roads, individuals concerned about transitioning from gas-powered cars to EVs may no longer use range anxiety as an excuse to delay adoption.

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