Detroit, Michigan, USA, was once the motor vehicle production capital of the world. Starting in 1901, when Henry Ford opened his first car manufacturing plant here, Detroit had a 70-year run at the top of the car production game.
The city’s manufacturers included a laundry list of America’s favourite cars including Ford, Dodge, Chrysler, General Motors and more. At its peak in the 1950s, the industry employed nearly 300,000 people, in this city of 1.85 million.
The people even began to call it Motor City.
However, the long and slow decline of Detroit started soon after. Once the crown gear in the US’s shining industrial machine, the exodus of manufacturing jobs outside the US led to widespread urban poverty in the city as people lost jobs and livelihoods on a massive scale.
Today, though, there are plenty of people working on trying to revive that proud blue-collar Motor City heritage.
But subsidising car manufacturers and gentrifying downtown neighbourhoods isn’t quite going to cut it. Many people think it’s going to take a new kind of vehicular technology. Maybe one is greener and more forward-thinking.
Enter Electreon: an Israeli startup with an ambitious plan to revolutionise the road network in the US, and further afield. And they want it to start, once again, in Detroit.
Electreon wants to create roads that charge electric vehicles as they cruise along with them. If expanded across a whole road network, cars could cruise around on a full charge all day – as they’re constantly topped up as they drive, and then receive even more when they stop at lights, for example.
(Although you better not be idling your car, using the city’s magic road juice to charge your phone just so you can play at one of the best online casino NZ dollars on the market. That would be illegal. And there is no magic charging road in NZ, yet.)
The charge is run through a layer of copper wires underneath the asphalt layer of the road. Vehicles are equipped with a special tracker, hooked underneath the car, and this interfaces with chips in the road’s wires to signal that a car that needs charging is passing over.
It actually looks like magic when it’s running, as shown in this linked promotional video from Sweden.
Electreon is running trials in Tel Aviv in Israel and Europe already!
In the USA though, of course, it was Motor City that jumped at the chance to be a part of the project. This will also be Electreon’s first trial open to members of the public with electric cars, for which there is a fast-growing enthusiasm in America.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been enthusiastic about the potential of the project.
She states that the next piece to the puzzle for sustainability is a wireless in-road charging system, since they aim to lead the future of mobility and electrification by boosting electric vehicle production and lowering consumer costs.
And she’s backing it financially too – the state will contribute $1.9 million towards the 1 mile stretch of road in downtown Detroit.
This initiative comes as part of a wider plan from Governor Whitmer to reduce carbon emissions across the state by 28% by 2025. And, hopefully, even carbon neutral by 2050.
Projects like Electreon’s could be a game changer in converting people to electric vehicles, especially in traditional car markets like Detroit.
At the moment many Americans see electric cars as a burden to charge and unreliable – not representing the great idea of freedom offered by the motor vehicle.
Electreon, and the city of Detroit, are working to change that perception.
The Electreon Vice President Stefan Tongur said that there was important work ahead with their partners in Detroit to develop scalable, ‘plug-free’ charging that would future-proof the city’s EV infrastructure.
Important work indeed.