Imagine a future where electric vehicles could draw power right out of the road, instead of having to plug in and charge overnight. Now what if we told you that future was coming soon to the streets of Tel Aviv?
That’s exactly what ElectReon has planned for the seaside metropolis. The company has been working since 2013 on developing roadway infrastructure to allow electric vehicles to charge wirelessly as they go. Now it’s partnering with the Tel Aviv municipality and the Dan Bus Company on a pilot project to instal its system in the city to power public buses.
Exact details such as timeframe and where the system would be installed were not disclosed with the announcement. But once complete, it’s slated to cover more than a kilometer of roadway, allowing electric buses to loop over the same route without having to return to the terminus to recharge. A reduced-size battery pack is, however, still slated to remain onboard the buses deployed, in order to allow them to continue operating off the grid.
Dan already runs a small fleet of electric buses supplied by Chinese manufacturer BYD. Its latest 12-meter (39-foot) mass-transit EVs can reach speeds of 80 km/h (50 mph), travel in urban conditions for 250 kilometers (155 miles) on a single charge, and – until the new infrastructure is installed – take about four hours to recharge.
They’ve been deployed along line #5, which runs from Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station, along Rothschild Boulevard (where many startups are based) and Dizingoff (one of the city’s main arteries) to the Savidor train station and adjoining Arlozerov bus terminal. Don’t be surprised if ElectReon’s infrastructure is deployed along (at least part of) that route.
With a 13.6-percent stake, the Dan Bus Company is one of the largest shareholders in ElectReon. The publicly traded startup has been testing specially modified electric buses and Renault Zoe electric cars on a 25-meter (82-foot) test road it set up at its headquarters, a 3,000-square-meter (~32,000-square-foot) facility at the Hadassah Ne’urim campus, 40 kilometers (25 miles) up the coast from Tel Aviv.
Through-the-road wireless vehicle charging is a sector estimated to be worth over $35 billion (according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan, as cited by Globes). It could stand to revolutionize how electric vehicles are used… if ElectReon (and the 16 or so others working on similar solutions around the world) can get it to work.